Being a dog owner in this day and age can be both fun and extremely overwhelming. There are new dog trends and activities always popping up and it’s hard to keep up. One of those trends is dog yoga, or now more commonly known as doga, is becoming increasingly popular in the dog owner community and yoga enthusiasts in recent years.
In 2001, a yoga teacher in Florida named Suzi Teitelman created it. Since then, it has spread around the world. Doga is a variant of yoga that uses the help of dogs, which makes the exercise more enjoyable for you as well because you’re doing it with a partner – your beloved pup.
Physical and mental wellness are just some of the things that dog yoga promotes. It is also another way of fostering a more meaningful relationship with your dog and is a perfect bonding activity with them, it can be done either at home (alone or with an instructor) or at a class. But, depending on where you are, practicing doga with just you and your dog at home might be more accessible.
As dog parents, our pups depend on us to take care of them and love them. This is why it is important that we also take care of our physical and mental health so we can be at our best in providing them the best care. And when it comes to exercises that improve both mental and physical well-being, yoga is among the most popular choices.
Apart from yoga’s numerous positive effects on your health, doga has a lot of benefits for you and your dog, too – and we’ve listed them down below for you!
Helps establish a deeper bond with you and your dog
In doga classes, you will be doing and learning assisted poses with your dog which will strengthen your bond with and build trust in each other while exercising. This can in turn make it easier for you to train them and correct undesirable behavior if they have any. And if you’re always busy with work or school the whole week, doga classes would let you focus on your dog and give them your undivided attention.
A way of relaxing
Doga is known to work wonders if you want to relax and de-stress. The same goes for your dog as they would also benefit from the breathing exercises that come along with doga. The stretching, meditation, and massages would help regulate their energy levels, calm them down, and release tension especially if you have a hyperactive dog.
An alternative for other physical exercises
For overweight dogs, one of the physical exercises that can help you manage their weight is doga. Regular doga sessions improve blood circulation, increase muscle mass, make joints more flexible, and postpone injuries and body aches associated with aging. Doga can also be beneficial to dogs who are just recovering from certain types of injuries by providing pain relief through gentle routines that could help them regain their strength. Senior dogs and dogs with disabilities can also enjoy doga as long as the routines match their needs.
In case you’re able to join a class, it will encourage your dog to socialize. Aside from you socializing with other dog owners and making new friends, doga sessions allow pups to mingle with other dogs and help them get used to strangers around them. This builds their confidence and lets them develop more positive interactions with other dogs and people. They may do so without being overwhelmed as their environment is more controlled and relaxed. Though now is not really the best time for doga gatherings in an actual studio, you may practice social distancing by enrolling in virtual dog yoga classes!
Doga carries several benefits for you and your fur baby, so if you’re looking into practicing this with your pup and can’t find classes near you, here are some beginner poses you may want to explore at home :
Heart to Hound Mudra
This pose is rather easy to execute and aims to establish a connection between you and your dog’s energy. To do this, start with an Indian sit, and place your dog right in front of you. Place your left hand on your heart, and your other hand on your pup’s heart. Gently close your eyes and breathe slowly. You will notice that this calming exercise brings in a soothing flow of energy between you and your fur baby.
You will be surprised that you’ve been doing this yoga pose with your dog all this time. It’s rather simple and includes one of your fur baby’s favorite activities, petting. To do the Savasana, simply have your dog lay on its back with its belly exposed. Then, start stroking your doggo’s belly as you simultaneously breathe slowly. This gives you some downtime and also relaxes your dog.
Also a part of the set of poses for human yoga, the Chaturanga looks like a plank or a push-up, focusing on strengthening the core, as well as the back and arms. In doga, this pose is made simpler so you and your pup can enjoy it. To execute this, simply have your dog lay on their belly and sit beside them as you slowly rub their back. This will help provide calmness to both you and your dog, and is also a good way to get them warm up to this new exercise.
Puppy Paw Mudra
One of the more complicated doga poses, the Puppy Paw Mudra requires you to have your dog lay on its stomach with its front legs extended. Once your dog is in this position, kneel behind them and place your head on their back, with your hands placed on their front paws. Breathe deeply and as you do, turn your head to the side. It’s one of the most relaxing poses when doing yoga with puppies.
The Chair Pose requires a little bit of temp check as it is one of those poses that your pup is comfortable with. To do this, let your doggo sit on its back paws. Have their front paws in the air as you support their torso, almost like making them sit like a human. This pose improves your dog’s back and balance as well.
According to Bethany Lyttle from The New York Times and Katie Briney from the Active website, reports have claimed advantages of Doga. The practice emphasizes yoga’s focus on the union between beings and helps establish a pack mentality. It also strengthens the bond between owner and pet and provides additional weight resistance to intensify a physical practice, assisting injured or elderly dogs.
These are just some of the simpler dog yoga poses you can do with your pup. But while most of these can be executed with ease, it’s important to always be extra gentle and careful as some dogs are more sensitive to these poses than others.
It’s also important to remember that the benefits of doga happen over time and aren’t something you can expect to see immediately.
If you want to share this experience with more people or more dogs around, you could invite another fur parent over and practice doga with them. Another option would actually be just you doing regular yoga and have the dogs mill around and socialize with each other.
These might not be as stimulating as a walk in the park and whether or not doga is for you and your pup, it’s a fun experience to try at least once.
Physical and mental wellness are just some of the things that dog yoga promotes. It is also another way of fostering a more meaningful relationship with your dog and is a perfect bonding activity with them while we’re all still staying at home.