Yoga is a unique, mentally-stimulating, body-strengthening exercise that many people enjoy practicing. It has been proven to have numerous mental and physical health benefits, which we will expound upon in a bit. But for now, let’s delve into the notion of this article, doing yoga with your dog.
If you are a dog lover who also practices yoga, why not combine your two passions? As it turns out, there is even a specific name for this, called doga. Let’s begin by defining what doga is, and explore the many questions you may have regarding the practice.
Doga is quite simply, an increasingly popular trend of practicing yoga alongside your dog. Sound a bit strange? Not for a dog lover. Doga is an excellent way to have fun while you and your pooch get some much-needed exercise at the same time.
Wondering where the concept of doga originates from? It was conceived by a yoga teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, named Suzi Teitelman.
Are you picturing yourself twisting your precious pup into pretzel-like yoga postures? Well, that isn’t exactly what doga is. Your dog won’t actually be performing a majority of the poses that you are going to be doing. Instead, your dog will be adoring the stretching, gentle massage, and calming energy that yoga classes are known to have. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why you might want to consider doing yoga with your dog.
Though the benefits of yoga for humans has been scientifically proven, the same research hasn’t been conducted on dogs, with the exception of the following aspect.
Doing doga is an excellent means of bonding with your canine companion. This is particularly true when you are performing poses where you and your dog have to work as a team. During this time, the bond between the two of you is strengthened, and the trust that your canine has in you grows. This is particularly beneficial, as this is likely to help your relationship during training sessions away from the studio.
Provides Healthy Exercise for Your Dog
Although the health benefits of doga are still yet to be determined by scientific research, no matter what, it is still a form of exercise for you and your canine.
Particularly if your dog is obese or not in the best of shape, doga provides a means of exercise. Practicing doga regularly can assist your dog in accumulating muscle growth while losing fat. Most dogs love to stretch, so doga may appeal to this quality in a dog’s nature. In turn, regular doga sessions may increase their flexibility.
When a dog has regular exercise along with massage during a doga session, this can help prevent conditions such as arthritis and ACL injuries when he becomes a senior. Hip dysplasia is another issue that may be benefited from doing doga. Believe it or not, dogs that have been injured can also be helped through doga, depending on the injury. This is because many times the gentle stretching that happens during doga relieves tension in their muscles.
Increased Relaxation for Your Dog
The foundation of doga is relaxation and breathing. They make up a large part of the yoga practice. Because of this, doga can do great things for dogs that are hyperactive, such as making them calmer. The exercise part of doga works to shake off some of your dog’s excess energy. The massage and stretching portion will help to make their mind more harmonious.
Doga is also particularly beneficial for dogs that have issues with excessive behavior. Dogs who are a bit anxious or on the yappy side, through regular practice may become stiller and more relaxed. With that being said, don’t expect instantaneous results, look for positive results within a month or so of practicing doga regularly.
You have to admit. Doga isn’t something that you hear about every day or do every day. Yoga can be a rewarding experience to do all on its own, but adding your canine to the mix can certainly make life more interesting! During your first doga class, you may feel a bit distracted by all that is going on, but that is completely normal. It is all part of the experience.
In regards to your dog’s entertainment, they are sure to have a heap of fun, since there are other doggies around to check out. Not to mention, the massages, stretching and relaxing are all sure to be relished by your canine companion, which definitely equals a welcome distraction for them!
Opportunity for Socialization
Attending a doga class is an excellent way to meet like-minded individuals and socialize with them and their dogs. A doga class makes for a great alternative to going to your tried and true local dog park. If you need a reason to get out of your home and try something new, why not take your doggie out and try doga?
A doga class is a rather controlled, and relaxing environment for a dog to be exposed to. Put other dogs into the mix and this can help your dog get used to being around other people and canines in an entirely new kind of way. For example, at a dog park, dogs are running and chasing balls, owners are shouting commands, and everyone is trying to contain their excitement.
A doga class offers a completely different type of vibration for the dog to experience while in the presence of other dogs. Dogs that are otherwise nervous or shy that don’t know how to react in certain social situations may bode well after attending regular doga classes.
Benefits for Humans
Because you are doing yoga (just with your dog), you are reaping all of the proven benefits of practicing yoga. Let’s take a moment to talk about the many ways that yoga heals your heart and mind, as well as strengthens your body.
The first most obvious benefit of doing yoga is improving your flexibility. Some people have difficulty touching their toes, but after practicing yoga regularly they find that they are able to twist their bodies into once impossible positions.
Improved muscle strength is another proven benefit of practicing yoga. Both of these physical qualities are particularly helpful as we get older.
Doing yoga also helps to perfect your posture. When your posture is in line, it takes much less effort for your neck and back muscles to support the weight of your head.
Yoga is relaxing to your heart and your mind. As you breathe in and out, your focus shifts to the present moment. Your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure decreases.
Doing yoga has the ability to ease your pain. Several studies have proven that the meditation ensued during yoga showed to reduce pain in people who had chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis and back pain for example.
Is Your Dog a Good Candidate?
I know what you may be thinking. Is every dog a good candidate for doing yoga? That may depend on who you ask. The main thing you need to do is be constantly aware of your dog’s behavior. How does he or she behave when around strangers and other dogs?
If your canine does not listen to your commands, be aware that doga may be a bit of a battle for you in the beginning. Before taking your dog to do yoga with you, work on training and socializing your dog a bit. Attending an obedience class with him or her may not be a bad idea.
There is nothing wrong at all with practicing doga at home. There is no tried and true rule that says you have to practice doga at a yoga studio. So, if your dog is not particularly calm when around other dogs or people just yet, it would be a better idea to begin practicing yoga with your dog in the comfort of your own home.
If your dog isn’t suitably trained or socialized, he or she could just become a big distraction for everyone else attending the class. Worse than that, if your dog feels too nervous, he could frighten someone or possibly bite. Be certain to take your dog’s mindset into consideration, prior to introducing him to a new activity such as Doga.
Any activity, such as Doga should never be forced upon a dog. The owner should watch his or her dog’s body language. If no interest is shown, or the dog starts to pull or wiggle away, this is an indicator that the dog is not ready to join this new adventure with you for the time being.
The Bottom Line
If you're reading this, you are a dog lover and are looking for a way to spend more time with your furry friend. Doing yoga with your dog is something that can certainly benefit you both. The mental and physical advantages of spending this time socializing and bonding together are sure to create a way to add positive energy into both of your lives.