Doing yoga with a dog, or doga in other words (the combination of “dog” and “yoga”), has become popular in the United States of America, but it has not become so popular in the Czech Republic yet. What is it about and what benefits does this sport have according to experts?
Some yoga instructors decided they will start offering their students courses which are also open for their pets. This trend started approximately ten or fifteen years ago in North America. The basic idea of doga is, similarly to yoga with children, that by doing yoga techniques together, you strengthen your relationship. According to these practicians, yoga is beneficial for dogs in the same way it is for us. Moreover, they even say it helps to reduce their aggression.
According to Suzi Teitelman, an instructor from Florida who started with these courses as one of the first pioneers, the positive vibrations are transferred from a person to a dog during exercises. Therefore, a dog doesn’t realize it is a part of the exercise but thanks to the empathy and its link to its master, it benefits from practising yoga as well. But there is generally no 100% consensus about dogs’ and their yoga experience between yogis nor between vets. They say it is difficult to guess how the exercise influences them. It is important that the pair works together well.
And how does it work then? Yoga instructors themselves agree that the owner of a dog doesn’t have to rush to a yoga lesson with it but he/she can try to integrate some yoga elements to their everyday life, e.g. during walks. And you can also practice at home. A first step might be to put up a mat and invite your dog on it. You can start demonstrating your favourite yoga sets and observe how your four-legged friend responds to your practice.
In most cases, your dog will be curious and come to you on its own. That is the best moment when to engage your dog to your exercise. You can work with your dog e.g. when stretching. You can for example raise your dog (if it is smaller) when practising warrior pose. According to instructors, it helps your balance and overall strengthening of your central body muscles which are crucial for yoga. There are certain exercises directly adjusted to dog yogis, you can stretch your dog by moving its body parts. But I recommend practicing this only after going together for a yoga lesson or at least watching a video in order not to hurt your dog.
If the dog resists, don’t force it. Exercise should be comfortable for both of you, continue only if the dog engages itself and enjoys it. You can only try relaxing poses such as the baby pose in which you can only gently put your forehead on your furry friend or a dog can lie down along your hip. Then relax together. Contact is what’s important, touch your dog, you transfer your energy and love to it by doing that. Also use moments when the dog stretches and naturally practices some yoga poses :). Join it and you may even imitate it.
Practising yoga with my dog is still in the beginnings. Our furry friend responds more like it’s a part of a game which is great, really. We enjoy it together very much. What is your experience with doga, do you have any?