There’s a new way to bond with your dog, and it’s trending now, with yogis and their dogis, nationwide. It’s called DOGA (yoga + dog = doga). Yoga for YOu and Your Dog. . .Yoga has gone to the dogs!
Of course, most dogs have had their own daily yoga practice for years. Each morning brings a deep downward-facing dog/play bow pose; each evening a contented final relaxation savasana/rub-my-belly pose. But could humans and dogs really learn how to practice on the mat together?
I googled “yoga with your dog” for the answer. There’s a wealth of resources out there: how-to articles, YouTube videos, even a book: Doga: Yoga for Dogs, by Jennifer Brilliant and William Berloni.
After several hours in front of the computer screen, and time on the mat with our chocolate Lab, Sally, I found the answer is: maybe yes; maybe no. It all depends on your dog’s temperament, age, health and motivation…plus your own patience level and training skills. (Gentle hands and plenty of treats help.)
Doga is a partner yoga practice which requires cooperation and coordination of moment. It allows the dog owner to help his or her canine friend into shapes that promote stress release, healthy circulation, muscle relaxation, and energy flow between them.
Sally and I gave a few poses from YouTube a go, with varying levels of success. Whether the asana looked sublimely zen or straight-up silly, we stayed in the present moment. I breathed; she panted. I scratched her back; she licked my hand. We even took the mandatory selfie shot on the mat!
Here are 3 very simple poses you can try with your own dog if you want to give it a whirl:
Chaturanga. Have your dog lay on its stomach while you sit behind or at the side, and stroke its back. (Think a classic ‘down stay’ with the added tweak of a light-pressure back massage.)
Savasana. Your dog lies on its back while you stroke its exposed belly.
Seated Meditation. You sit in a comfortable cross-legged seated pose with your dog lying in any comfortable position, next to your body. Breathe and connect.
One last benefit to doing yoga with your dog: those moments of hands-on, undivided attention give dog owners a chance to do a routine check for lumps, bumps and sensitive body parts, which is especially beneficial for those of us with older pets.
Dianne Ochiltree is a writer and 200-hour RYT with Yoga Alliance. She is a proud graduate of the Teacher Training program at Yoga from the Heart, where she can be found teaching chair yoga in addition to her duties as Teaching Assistant for Lynn at Parkinson Place in Sarasota. Dianne is also a published children’s author. For more information on her books, go to dianneochiltree.com.