by Tina Russo Lancey, CYT, R-AYF, R-CYAMT
We love our dogs, and we love yoga. Did you know the two go together? Doga is the term used for yoga with dogs. The idea of doga is a growing trend where dogs engage with us as we practice yoga, allowing yogis and their dogs to make other dog friends, engage in enrichment, and hang out with their favorite humans.
Since dogs cannot actually sit still, purposefully guide controlled breath, and move from one pose to another as their human would, there still is a special bond formed on the mat. While Doga offers many benefits, here are just a few of the most popular reasons to practice doga.
Doga Offers Quality Bonding Time
As the world has reponed post-coronavirus, we are quickly moving back to a space where we are increasingly busy. After almost two years of extensive quality time at home with our pets, we now are again spending more time apart. Odds are, your pets are thankful for the extra time to lay around on the couch while you’re gone, but they still crave one-on-one time. While practicing doga, you and your dog are focused on each other. Some poses can be assisted with your pup, or they may just enjoy taking up space on your mat. Over time, your bond will deepen as you both relax and enjoy the time together. Many instructors will offer ways to gently massage your dog as part of the practice. There is no doubt this is an inherently close, bonding experience.
You Both Can Relax
Traditional yoga is known for the benefit of relaxation. Your dog will naturally take your cue to relax. Some dogs may engage in burning energy, especially at the beginning of a class where there are so many new friends to meet. Most dogs will eventually settle down and feel calm. This sense of calm is something that can last long after you pick up your mat. It can increase the mental stability of your dog long-term, as well. Anxious dogs are afforded the opportunity to experience a calm environment. This can, over time with regular practice, help equip them to return to a state of calm when feeling anxious off the mat.
Both you and your dog are getting out of the house and engaging in physical activity. Your dog does not necessarily need to move through poses as you do to get the physical benefits. You will undoubtedly get a workout in, potentially inspiring you to also engage in other physical activities with your dog as you bond. This might include hiking, swimming, or a challenging game of fetch. No matter where or how often you practice, there is still an element of physical engagement for both you and your dog.
While yoga is never “boring,” including a pack of dogs can absolutely provide some great entertainment. Dogs all have their own personalities, mannerisms, and quirks. Watching dogs interact with new humans and other dogs while engaging in a physical practice can be comical. Even just sitting and relaxing on your mat to watch the class unfold can be pure entertainment.
A well-known veterinarian from Connecticut, Dr. Sheldon Steinmetz is not only a brilliant veterinarian but is well-versed in animal behavior. When pets come to Dr. Steinmetz with anxiety or socialization issues, he doesn’t just send them off to a therapist or prescribe medication. He also isn’t quick to suggest they head to a local dog park where there may be room for a pet to take off or get into a fight in the open area. Dr. Steinmetz encourages his clients to bring their pets into the veterinarian hospital at random times when they are open and sit in the waiting room. This helps the pet socialize in a semi-controlled environment, with their human, while hopefully easing any anxiety. So what does this have to do with doga? The same idea applies when it comes to socialization. The environment is positive, instructors/facilities should be sure all dogs are properly vaccinated, and the area should be secure. This gives your dog the chance to socialize in a space that is not overly stimulating. With regular classes, your dog may even make friends they come to enjoy spending time with as they practice. This will lead to happier dogs who are not easily upset when approached by another unknown dog or their human.
Because It’s Just Cool
This might be the best reason of all to practice doga….it’s just a cool, fun, interactive way to spend time with your dog. Dogs need stimulation and enrichment just like humans need those things. While some trends such as goat yoga, are also popular, we think doga is way cooler!
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get down with your dog! Looking to practice at home? Here are a few books we love! (Note, As an Amazon Associate, this site may earn from qualifying purchases).