My human is always looking for ways to unwind after a long day but hates doing anything that doesn’t involve me! Yoga alone is a great way to stay flexible, relax, and even get a bit of a cardio workout included in your yoga session. Unfortunately, traditional yoga usually involves leaving me at home, by myself, which can add further stress to my human. A new practice that allows humans to do yoga with us dogs may be a great option that kills two birds with one stone (literally, of course, those birds are my friends!). Doga is an exciting new spin on traditional yoga that allows humans to relax and exercise with their pups in tow.
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About 20 years ago, in 2001, Suzi Teitelman created the phenomenon known as doga. This new yoga combines yoga with your dog, allowing us to spend even more time together with our humans. Doga takes many of its cues from us and the way we move and stretch. Many of the movements mimic a stretching animal and are adapted for humans to perform. This exercise means that we can do the poses together, increasing our time spent together. Often, doga is a great way for us to create a stronger bond with one another, not only spending some quality time burning calories but building our trust with one another as we work together through different doga poses. Plus, many formal doga classes are filled with plenty of puppies and humans, giving us a chance to make new friends and practice our social skills.
Many humans practice yoga every day because of the several associated health benefits. Not only can yoga help to relax and soothe anxiety in humans, but it can help improve brain function and overall health. Yoga can help increase flexibility and strengthen muscles. Depending on the type of yoga you perform, yoga can even be a cardio workout, increasing the heart rate and improving circulation. Of course, being together with your dog as you practice yoga is an added benefit. Us dogs can lower heart rate, reduce stress, and increase happiness as we work together through various yoga poses.
All this stretching and exercising isn’t just for our humans (although it certainly helps them, too!). Doga has plenty of benefits that can help canines as well. Some of these benefits include:
- It helps to soothe and relax hyper or overly anxious dogs
- Perfect, low-impact exercise for dogs recovering from injury or surgery
- It allows dogs to work through behavior challenges
- Develops impulse control
If doga sounds like an excellent way for you to spend more time with your pup, you can start by looking for a local studio to practice doga. Remember that you are looking for a specific dog yoga class that is friendly and welcoming to pups like us. If you are lucky enough to find a small yoga studio that is dog friendly, you may even be able to convince the instructor to make a special doga class offered once a month. Although popular around the country, these types of classes seem to be offered more frequently in large cities than rural areas, but there are other ways that you can still practice doing yoga with your dog. With modern technology, it is quite possible to partake in some doga online. There are plenty of instructional doga videos online that you allow you to follow along. As long as you have room in your home, a yoga mat, and a furry friend, you will be able to perform some foundational doga poses alongside your best friend.
Tips For Successful Doga
As with anything that involves us, we need to be set up for success from the start. We want you to continue doing doga with us, so we must have the resources, supplies, and attention we need to be successful at doga. Here are some of the best tips for humans and their pets, just starting with doga.
- Bring necessary supplies that we might need like water, treats, poo-bags, and our leash and collar
- Please make sure we are comfortable around other dogs and are (moderately) well-behaved. We need to work together to do doga, and distractions and scuffles aren’t great for focus and concentration
- Let me go to the bathroom before class!
- Practice a few poses ahead of time at home, so I know what we are doing
Best Doga Poses for Beginners
As with all new skills, it can take some time and practice to really master doga. But, there are a few poses that are perfect for beginner dogs and humans both. Here are my five favorite poses to do with my human. I get to stretch, relax, and spend some time with my best friend!
Heart to Hound Mudra
This pose is an easy pose that we can do together. As you sit cross-legged, be sure to keep a straight spine and erect posture. I’ll sit in front of you, facing you. Touch one of your hands to your heart, and put your other hand on my heart. Together, we will take deep, relaxing breaths as we hold this simple pose.
I like this pose because it involves belly-rubs. To do the Savasana pose, put me on my back, lying down. Gently rub my belly. As you give me plenty of belly-rubs, be sure to breathe slowly and let your muscles relax.
Inner Dog Mudra
This pose allows us to connect. First, sit on the ground with your knees bent underneath you, sitting on top of your knees. Place me in a sit in front of you, facing you. With your hands behind your back, slowly lean forward until your head touches my head. Breath slowly and allow us to stay connected, feeling each other’s energy.
Puppy Paw Mudra
The fun part about the Puppy Paw Mudra is that we can do it together, mimicking the same pose. First, get me to lay down in front of you on my belly. My head should be far away from you and my bum close to you. Be sure that my legs and paws are stretched outward. Next, you should sit on the floor behind me, on your knees. Stretch forward and allow your arms to wrap around to my front, touching my legs and paws. Turn your head slightly to the side and remember to do some deep, cleansing breaths as we hold this pose together.
This pose is for the professionals and is considered an advanced pose, but I had to challenge you somehow! I need to be standing with you standing behind me. It can help if you lean forward ever so slightly. While standing, gently pick up my back legs off the ground at the hips. Remember to keep my hips secure and stable so that I don’t get hurt. This pose will help me stretch out my muscles with my feet off the ground, giving me an excellent relaxing feel. This stretch is a great pose to do for dogs that are working through injury or surgery recovery.
Ask the Professionals
Always be aware of where we are and our surroundings. Sometimes, if we aren’t into it, we will give you a cue that our attention span has expired. If we get up and walk away from you while you are performing your yoga pose, this is our way of telling you we are bored. For us at that moment, chewing on our favorite bone or toy might be more relaxing than doing doga with you. Sorry, please don’t take offense! Remember only to have us do doga with you when we want to, and never force us to partake in a class when we are not interested.
As with any health and exercise regime, it is always good to first consult a medical professional. Consultations are true for both of us! Check with a doctor to ensure that yoga is a safe and acceptable form of relaxation and exercise. Be sure to check with my vet to make sure that I am fit and healthy enough to perform yoga with you. This way, you can rest assured that you are only helping me improve my health and not causing any damage.
If you are using doga to help me recover from an injury or surgery, you will want to cover the poses we are performing with my vet. While doga can be an excellent exercise program to help me recover, you want to make sure that movement, poses, and positions aren’t going to compromise my safety. If you have any doubts before proceeding, contact a professional.