Practicing yoga with your dog, called Doga (DOH-ga), is gaining national recognition. There is a logical connection between dogs and yoga. Dogs are pack animals and consider their human part of their pack. Yoga is about unification and connecting with other beings. A strong connection with your pet leads to a more trusting and flourishing relationship. So practicing yoga with your dog deepens your relationship with the animal, all the while celebrating the guiding principals of yoga.
Doga: Practice Yoga with Your Dog
Taking this connection even further, animals and yoga have been linked for centuries. Many yoga postures (asanas) are named for animals. Downward Facing Dog is a well known yoga pose. Other yoga postures that are named for animals include Cat Pose, Cow Face (or Cow Head) Pose, Lion Pose, Camel Pose, Rooster Pose, Tortoise Pose, Fish Pose and more. It’s a long list.
The popular belief is that animals demonstrate particular abilities that yoga practitioners seek. Dogs are innate yogis, they live in the moment. They greet each new activity enthusiastically and without judgment. Dogs incorporate all their senses into every activity. Yogis endeavor to imitate these qualities of mindful living as a path to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
In a doga class, dogs and their humans work together on yoga poses. Dog owners help their pets get into different poses, careful that the postures and stretches are gentle and within the individual dog’s level of comfort. Likewise, the dog owners use their pets as live yoga props and added weight, which helps the human achieve deeper stretches. The postures and stretches are adapted to accommodate the flexibility of the human and the size of the dog.
Dogs love doga. In a doga class, your dog is the center of your attention. Practicing yoga with your dog facilitates quality one-on-one time together. Additionally, many doga teachers incorporate canine acupressure and massage into the practice. It is an ideal, hands-on bonding opportunity. And bonding with your pet is good for your health and the health of your dog.
While all this may sound serious, you must practice doga with an open mind and a sense of humor.
It’s amusing to try and hit a Warrior Pose while struggling to balance your pup on your front thigh. Comedy ensues as you do a Bridge Pose with a dog sitting on your stomach, or go for a deep forward bend with an animal draped over your shoulders. It’s funny to see someone trying to balance in a Boat Pose with a dog perched on their feet.
The atmosphere in a doga class can become chaotic, especially if there are dogs in attendance with poor social skills. For these reasons, some traditional yoga practitioners fear that doga will trivialize the core principals of a centuries old practice. But if the dogs have anything to say about it, doga is here to stay.