If you’re like an estimated 14 percent of Americans, you’ve practiced some type of yoga in the past 12 months. But has your dog done the same?
Dog yoga, or “doga,” is a style of yoga that aims to boost the bond between you and your pup. No, this doesn’t mean Fido will be following along through postures like Boat, Pigeon, or Tree (though they might join in for Downward Dog and Playful Puppy!). Instead, it’s an opportunity to work on stress-reduction for both you and your dog, while also giving them the chance to discover new experiences by your side.
What Is Doga?
According to DogaMahny, a U.K.-based leader in both human- and dog-centric yoga, doga is an intense bonding experience between owner and pet. While you work on holding postures and maintaining your breath, just like a typical yoga class, your dog will instinctually follow along in their own way.
Some dogs may play and climb during certain postures, while others often steal away for a quick nap. However your dog chooses to spend their yoga class, you’ll both leave feeling refreshed and closer than ever.
It’s fairly common knowledge that our pets feed off of our energy. If we feel anxious or on-edge, our four-legged companions are likely to follow suit, so working to relieve our own stress levels can directly benefit our dogs. At the same time, practicing yoga with our dogs helps keep us grounded and aware of our physical and emotional states.
Doga sessions also often include touch or massage for your dog, which improves your bond and can help alleviate physical aches and pains your dog might be experiencing. However, just showing up to class is shown to offer several benefits for yogi pups.
The 4 Real Benefits of Dog Yoga for Your Four-Legged Friend
Of course, you don’t need to take our word for it. Here are four very real benefits of practicing yoga with your dogs:
Spending personal time with your dog is the best way to improve your bond. With that said, there’s a big difference between sitting in front of the TV with Fido and venturing out into the world.
Not only does doga offer the opportunity to experience something new with your dog, but it also forces you to focus on being in the moment with them. By staying aware of both yourself and your dog’s physical and emotional states, you can better understand each other. With practice, you may even find this new awareness extends outside of the yoga studio and into your day-to-day lives.
Although every dog is encouraged to practice doga at their own pace, it’s a great way to get even the laziest dog up and moving. If you struggle to get your dog enough exercise throughout the day, then attending a regular doga class might be an excellent alternative to walking or playing fetch.
Since doga is quite gentle, it can also be an excellent beginner exercise routine for overweight dogs. Just be sure to consult with your veterinarian before starting a yoga routine with your dog!
Proper socialization is key to a well-rounded, happy dog. At a doga class, your pooch has the chance to meet other like-minded humans and dogs in a peaceful environment.
While dogs can interact with each other or other owners if they please, it’s also perfectly acceptable for your dog to keep to themself. Either way, just being out and about with other dogs is a great way to boost your pup’s confidence and social skills.
Settling down is often extremely difficult for dogs, especially if they struggle with anxiety. Doga can help encourage relaxation and teach your dog the necessary skills to calm themselves down in real life.
Between your own relaxed state, stretching, and hands-on massage, doga is an excellent tool for showing your dog the joy of being calm. It can also teach young and high-energy dogs that jumping and chasing aren’t the only fun activities out there.
Just remember that seeing noticeable results from dog yoga will take time. The more hyperactive and anxious your dog is, the more time they will need to learn how to settle down.
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How to Add Dog Yoga, or Doga, to Your Routine
Whether you’re an avid yogi or have never set foot on a yoga mat in your life, doga is the perfect opportunity to take you and your dog’s relationship to the next level. Plus, you’ll both enjoy numerous mental and physical health benefits along the way!
To get the most out of your doga practice, we highly recommend seeking out a local class. Even if you don’t have access to a dedicated dog yoga studio, many yoga teachers host dog-friendly classes on a regular basis. You might also be able to coordinate with other yogis in your area to host your own doga session in a public park or your home.
However, if you can’t attend a group class at this time, you can always start practicing at home. While your dog won’t get the added benefit of socializing with other dogs and people, they will still enjoy spending quality time with you on your mat.
So, what do you think? Have you ever practiced yoga with your dog (either intentionally or unintentionally)? Do you notice a difference in your dog’s behavior when you take the time to relax with them? If you ask us, it’s about time to roll out your yoga mat and practice some Downward Dog.