Since yoga with cats is becoming popular, it should not be surprising that yoga with dogs or dog yoga (also known as doga) is gaining in popularity as well. Dogs however, can play a little different role in yoga than cats as they can serve as a weight, block or prop.
Dogs are a “casual participant,” says Mahny Djahanguiri, author of “DOGA: Yoga For You and Your Dog.” Doga yoga is similar to partner yoga with a pup instead of a person. Does your dog benefit from participating in yoga with you? “It calms him mentally and physically,” says Djahanguiri. If you are into yoga, here are some things to consider before your canine and you give doga a try.
Vet with your vet
Always check with your vet first. New York veterinarian and pet health guide author of “Vet Confidential” (Ballantine Books) Dr. Louise Murray says, “Make sure [the yoga poses] are nothing that will cause your dog physical discomfort. We know when to stop, but dogs have a hard time telling us. They’re very stoic.”
Do no harm
Never force your dog to do something they don’t want to do. Djahanguiri points out that it runs counter to yoga philosophy. Avoid picking your dog up when they are sleeping or when they want to wiggle out of your grip. Also, don’t stretch out your dog as they have very tender ligaments and tendons.
Avoid the use of treats when trying to perform yoga with your dog. “This is yoga, not a training session,” says Djahanguiri. She also suggests not taking away your dog’s personal space as the goal of Doga is “for your dog to absorb your calm, not to become stressed by your experience.” If your furry child wanders across the room and goes to sleep, let them be.
Less is more
According to Djahanguiri, your dog does not have to be involved in any yoga poses, “but he can still absorb your calm.” She further states, “You can influence him through regulating your breathing pattern, which calms down your dog while also calming down your central nervous system.”
Patience and contentment
Doga takes time, patience and practice. “It could be a 3-to 6-month practice,” says Djahanguiri. Be pleased with what has been accomplished on any given day. The simple act of taking time to make space for your dog and yourself is a great achievement. Namaste.
This article was adapted from a Boston Globe story by Linda Matchan titled “Five things to know about dog yoga.”