by Sojos | March 19, 2013
There are millions of human yogis in America, but there is also a growing number of four-legged acolytes of the age-old Indian wellness practice. Pet owners who enjoy the calming, centering and health-promoting effects of yoga are keen to get their best friends in on the benefits.
If you see the words “dog yoga” and imagine trying to get a dog to do a boat pose, you’re not alone. However, “doga,” as it’s sometimes known, is more about owners sharing the energy of their practice with their dogs. Many first-time doga class members are surprised that the practice doesn’t turn into a doggy free-for-all. Unexpected as it might seem, most dogs stay calmly with their owners, without much coaxing.
Those with high-energy dogs shouldn’t assume that they’re exempt from trying doga. In fact, many owners with energetic pups say that during class, their pets become so calm and relaxed that it’s almost as though they have a different dog.
Some doga classes involve touching your dog as you move through your poses, and it’s not unusual for dogs to take the initiative to get involved, perhaps with a playful bow when you’re in tabletop position or upward dog. There’s also an element of helping your dog with some poses. Dogs naturally enjoy stretching – and do a lot of it – and during a dog yoga class, the instructor will offer some guidance. Light massages and gentle stretches (like extending the back leg, gently, for a hip stretch) are popular methods.
If the idea of doga seems a little quirky, consider that many yoga poses were actually inspired by animals. Just look at the names of the poses: downward dog, cat, crow, scorpion, monkey, eagle and more. Next time you watch your dog stretch himself into “downward dog,” think about searching for a doga class near you. Many yoga studios now offer animal-friendly classes.