Animal-centric yoga has become popular in the last few years, but did you know that there’s a practice designed specifically for dogs and their owners? Introducing doga, the yoga practice that’s sure to become your new favorite pastime.
What is doga?
Dog yoga, or doga, is yoga practice with your dog. Yes, you read that right – yoga with dogs! There are two ways that this is done: having the dog as a participant in the flow or having the dog as a “prop” of sorts. Both are great options and can be mixed during a single practice depending on your dog’s mood.
Why should I do it?
Those that practice doga cite three main reasons they love it: it allows them to bond with their dog, it offers health benefits for everyone involved, and, most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.
- Bonding with your dog: Practicing doga is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one time with your pup. This could involve doing assisted poses together as partners or using it as an opportunity to learn some new tricks or commands that could be used in future sessions (tip: their favorite Freshpet treat makes a great motivator to keep their attention), it’s guaranteed to bring you two closer together.
- It’s good for you and your dog: Doga is an easy and fun way to incorporate a little bit more exercise into your daily routines. The great thing about it is that it appeals to your dog’s natural instinct to stretch, which if done regularly can increase flexibility and muscle tone. It can also help prevent issues like arthritis and muscle strain from occurring as they age. Doga can also be used strategically to help your pet recover from an injury by focusing on moves that gently stretch the impacted area as they rebuild strength.
- It’s fun: As a dog lover, any activity that your pup can be present with is guaranteed to be a blast, but doga brings this to a whole new level. During doga, your dog is not simply there while you have fun, but is involved in the activity itself.
How can I do it?
There’s no right or wrong way to do doga, and your practice may look different each time. The important thing is to make sure that both you and your dog are safely enjoying the time together. However, there are a few tips you can follow when doing it:
- Let your dog’s curiosity lead the flow: Most dogs aren’t going to follow a strict flow and that’s okay! Instead, let your dog take the lead and choose poses that complement their actions, whether that means doing poses with your dog or simply allowing them to do their thing nearby.
- Smaller dogs can make great props: If your dog is comfortable with it, you can easily incorporate them into your regular flow. For example, lifting them during poses like Warrior I.
- Any pose can be done alongside larger dogs: If your dog doesn’t like to be lifted (or is too big to be lifted) you can simply do poses with them by your side.
- Everyone can participate in Shavasana: Just like in normal yoga, spend the last few moments of your practice in Shavasana. Don’t worry about holding the traditional pose, just rest with your dog in any way that feels natural – whether it be cuddling together or laying side by side.
Where can I do it?
As doga increases in popularity, there are studios popping up in many major cities. For example, Austin Doga
offers private classes as well as small group classes for 3 or 4 people and Dogamahny
in London, England offers regular doga classes at the Courtyard Theatre. There are also a number of cities that don’t have dedicated doga studios but organize special events throughout the year, so keep a lookout.
If there are no doga classes available where you live, you can always do your own at home. Books such as Doga: Yoga for you and your Dog
can help safely guide you through the different poses. Alternatively, you could reach out to a dog-loving studio in your city to see if they would be open to hosting a doga class, whether regularly or as a special event.
Whether you practice doga at a studio or in the comfort of your own home, it’s a wonderful opportunity to focus on the relationship you have with your pup and improve your fitness at the same time.