This Saturday I will begin a new Doga (yoga with your dog) series at Annabelle’s Pet Station.
I feel honored to work with Annabelle’s and to share this amazing practice with owners and their canine friends.
So far we have all kinds of breeds and ages coming – German Shepherd, Dobermans, mini Pinscher (tripod dog!), an American Staffordshire Bull Terrier and more!
So, what is doga?
We don’t teach our dogs to do yoga poses.
Fido doesn’t learn to do Warrior poses, splits or their namesake, downward dog.
Doga is yoga with your dog.
It’s one of the reasons I love this practice. How often do we get to share in an activity with our dogs? Not to command them or control them or lord over them. And not an exercise just to wear them out.
But, an activity purely to connect with – create a union with our body, mind and spirit and the body, mind and spirit of our dog-friend.
Yoga means to “yoke” or to create a union or connection.
Breathe and be at ease with your pet
One of the main elements we use in dogs is breath. Calm, slow deep breaths that relax the diaphragm also relaxes your dog.
We ask our dogs to sit next to us or against us as we find our initial calming breaths.
We make the breathing a constant part of the practice.
I’ve seen agitated and excited dogs grow calm as this breathing becomes a normal part of regular practice with their owners.
We’ll learn about our chakra system and how to align them with our dogs’, how to tell when our dogs are out of balance and what kinds of movements and exercises can help bring balance.
Touching and stroking our dogs is a huge part of doga. What better way to connect than to pet them?
We do some massage and acupressure touch to create a soothing relaxing state.
Most dogs, regardless of age or breed, soak up this part of the doga.
We will go through some massage movements particularly good for aching and aging joints, as well as acupressure to help with excitability, digestion and stress.
The massaging is done in union with breath and helps create bonding between human and pet.
The sanskrit term, asana, is usually translated as “yoga pose.” But asana means “comfortable seat.” We begin simple movements on the floor with side stretches and twists.
This is where patience, a calm and quiet mind, non-judgment and non-competition come into play.
Our dogs are allowed to leave our mats. If they get bored, we can’t force them. We need to stay calm on our mat, breathing in a slow and relaxed manner as our dog saunters around. As long as your dog doesn’t start a fight or instigate play, he or she can wander about all he/she wants. They usually return to their owners without much coaxing.
The amount of movement and types of poses we approach are going to depend on the physical fitness level and strength of the owner and then the pet.
The most important thing is to stay open-minded and light-hearted and relaxed.
Think of it as a relaxing play session.
What’s also great about doga, different from other kinds of dog exercises, is the interdependence.
When you’re partnered with your dog, sometimes you may need to rely on your dog to be the support. There are some poses the human has to lean on the dog or use the dog to maintain balance. And sometimes your dog needs to trust you for support – like poses where you lift your dog. I love watching both human and dog rise to the occasion, not wanting to let the other down, or finding the courage to have trust in one another.
It’s that kind of connection with a calm breath that can ultimately deepen your relationship with your dog – separate from obedience, agility or other trainings.
If you’re coming, walk and exercise for about 30 mins before coming to class.
Both you and your pet should go to the bathroom before class.
Interested in yoga with your dog (Doga)?
Check out the schedule for Doga Fit and Doga Basics at Annabelle’s Pet Station or email Belinda with questions, email@example.com