Yoga – or Doga- is the practice of yoga with your dog. Through acts of dog training, human yoga, meditation, gentle massage, and stretching, Doga practitioners seek to achieve a positive attachment and a greater harmony with their dogs.
So if yoga is good for you, why not have your dog do it too? It’s great for your mind and body, from strength to depression to pain – it’s good for all of it. Now we all know your dog won’t actually be able to do a lot of the poses, but they’ll enjoy being with you, pet massages and stretching. It will still feel very good to your dog. If your dog is really not into doing this with you, you shouldn’t force your dog to do it. Your dog may squirm, or possibly just walk away, if they are not interested.
One of the benefits of doing yoga with your dog is the bond you will create with them. You and your dog will be partners, something preferred by your dog always anyways. Doga for dogs will create a great bond which, in turn, will help in their training and trust. When people do yoga, they concentrate on relaxation and breathing exercises – the same is true for your dog. If your dog has a lot of energy, this will help calm them down and chill. Dogs naturally stretch so the stretching and some massage will create a calmness too.
One of the reasons people do yoga is to relieve stress and anxiety. Dogs suffer from this as well. This is probably the best thing you could do for your dog to help relieve this. Physical activity is just as important for people and dogs, but for the mind, yoga and doga is hands-down the best thing you both could do. Doga will help your dog relax, but it will take time. It’s not a cure all, quick behavior treatment.
If your dog is out of shape or overweight, Doga can be a good way to get a bit of much-needed exercise. It can help them build muscle and lose fat if you practice it regularly. Any type of physical activity helps with blood circulation, and Doga is not an exception.
Doga usually appeals to a dog’s natural instinct to stretch, which can help them improve their flexibility and range of motion. Regular exercise and massage can also help your Fido in prevention of arthritis and ACL injuries when he/she becomes older. Doga can also be beneficial to dogs that have hip dysplasia or similar pain issues that occur with aging.
Injured dogs (depending on the type of injury) can also benefit from Doga. Dogs who are recovering from an injury or accident can get significant pain relief through gentle stretching, which relieves muscle tension. It can also help them rebuild their strength, whether they lost it due to aging or an injury.
Doga for Dogs Big and Small
Dogs of any size can get into doga. Although many poses appear to involve lifting a dog, which would be problematic for large dogs, lifting is not a requirement.
Here are some doga poses that dogs of all sizes can perform easily with your help:
Chaturanga: Have your dog lay on its stomach while you stroke its back.
Chair: This pose requires your dog to sit on its hind legs while you hold the dog from behind and raise its front paws in the air.
Savasana: Your dog lies on its back while you stroke its exposed belly.
Puppy Paw Mudra: Created by Bryan, this pose requires your dog to lie on its stomach with its front legs extended outward. You kneel down behind your dog and place your head on its back while holding its front legs outward with your arms. Then you turn your head to one side.
Heart-to-Hound Mudra: This pose, also created by Bryan, simply requires you to place one hand on your heart and the other on your dog’s heart. Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Take a look at Bryan’s book, Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi (Skipstone Press 2009). If you’d rather learn while watching, check out Amy Stevens’ Yoga For Dogs DVD, available online. (Taken from The Dog Daily)
If you can’t find a Doga class in your area, you can always do it at home.