Doga is the art of practicing yoga with your dog, and it is beneficial to both you and your mutt.
Yoga is known to reduce stress and anxiety in people, and it can have the same effect on your dog. Just like people, our dogs can feel the stressors of everyday life, and they need an outlet for it, also just like people.
So often our energy and stress can roll off of us and our dogs pick up on those negative vibes. Just like in humans, stress and anxiety can manifest itself physically in dogs. Studies have shown an increase of cancer and tumors for those animals that experienced high amounts of stress and pressure in their lives.
Your dog may not have a high volume of stress, but creating a healthy lifestyle is essential to both you and your pet. Experienced Doga practitioners report reduced anxiety and hyperactivity in dogs that regularly partake in the practice Doga.
Keep reading to learn how Doga can benefit both you and your dog.
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The Art of Practicing Doga With Your Dog
How It Works
You do not have to be an expert to practice Doga with your dog. There are resources available to help teach you Doga and you’ll get a run down here.
There are two types of Doga: one that is human-centered, and one that is dog-centered. But both start the same way by setting your energy and a breathing exercise. For some, it may be beneficial to begin with a human-centered yoga session with your dog present in the room to get her used to the new strange activity.
During your beginning sessions, your dog will just be in the same room with you as you do yoga. Expect her curiosity to take over, and you may see her strike a yoga pose that is natural to her.
If you are having trouble balancing, a large dog may naturally offer you support. Your dog will do this by gently leaning into you, usually placing her shoulder on one of your legs. You may accept her offer and get the help you need to balance. Just be mindful and listen to her subtle body language for cues.
Please remember, you are responsible for your dog’s body and your own. You must adapt the session entirely to your dog, and be mindful of your own body’s limitations. It may take some time, and practice will render better results.
Set the energy in the room. You want this to be relaxing, so turn on some relaxing music and light a couple of candles to create the mood.
First, let’s start with a dog massage. Always give your dog the ability to walk away to avoid upset and render the time ineffective. Start with the ears; this is often the most sensitive part of a dog’s body and a quick relaxer.
With the tips of your fingers, move to massage the neck, shoulders, and down the front legs. Use the tips of your fingers and the palm of your hands in a circular motion going down the body of your dog.
Once your dog is relaxed, start a breathing exercise for yourself. Sit in a comfortable position. Some people like to sit on a yoga mat, and others, due to physical limitations, may need a pillow or comfy chair.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on your breathing for 7-10 minutes. You may pet your dog while you do this, as the slow and mindful breathing will further calm your dog.
Once that is done, you are ready for Doga. For those who are practicing yoga while their dog watches, sun flow yoga with Nikka Nadia is suitable for any level.
If your dog is a pretty chill pooch, or you’ve incorporated this session into a habit, and your dog is ready to advance, start with a smooth transition from your breathing exercise.
The heart to hound Mudra is traditionally performed on the floor. Floor exercises help ground your energy, so you have more control over the outcome of the session.
In this pose, sit on the floor with your legs crossed; your dog should sit in front of you facing the same direction.
Place your hand over your heart, and feel your heartbeat. Then, place your hand on your dog’s chest. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing and the beating of two hearts. This pose raises both spirits, while at the same time grounds energy.
This pose stretches your dog’s abdominal muscles and front legs through her shoulders. Begin in a normal sitting position. Then move your dog into a begging position, front feet up, tail to the ground, the back legs hold weight, the knees may bed or bounce gently.
Your dog should naturally hold this position on her own, but you may place your hands on your dog’s middle back for extra support. Now the stretch can begin, gently massage your dog’s shoulders in a circular motion and slowly guide the front legs to stretch.
Dogs do this stretch pretty naturally. Sun salutations are a great morning stretch that activates your dog’s muscles and is useful before and after physical activity.
While your dog stands in front, carefully grasp your dog’s upper thighs and lift up and back in a slow even movement.
In this position, your dog will stretch her torso as her balance and weight shifts. The front legs will stretch out before her, and the back legs will stretch behind.
Your dog’s back should be straight and not bent in the middle. If you find her back bowing, bring your dog back to the ground and try again. This stretches the muscles from toes to toes.
Observe how your dog reacts and watch for uncomfortable tension. When the stretch is over, gently bring your dog back down to all four legs on the floor.
Because yoga is a spiritual exercise, this is a chance to bond with your pet and become even more connected. The Savasana pose is one of the easiest and hardest yoga poses. During this pose, you lie on your back, and arms relaxed at your sides, palms out. Then you close your eyes, breathe naturally, and spend a few minutes attempting to let go of any lingering tension in the body.
Savasana doga involves your dog lying heart to heart on top of you. If you have a large dog, this may prove difficult. she may lie near you, too, as she benefits from the stillness of this move after stretching her muscles.
This move becomes difficult when your mind wanders to random thoughts and problems, or your nervous system kicks in and makes your foot itch. When that happens, just come back to the breath.
If you still find your mind wandering, visualize something serene. Think about casually walking your dog in a beautiful park filled with huge oak trees. Imagine the wind that rustles through the lush green leaves. Take a cleansing breath and relax every muscle with intention.
Doga may seem like a ridiculous crunchy activity you can do with your dog. But yoga is an ancient practice that strengthens the physical body and its spirit. Doga was developed by those who considered dogs both physical and spiritual beings.
Additionally, some of the poses that are incorporated in doga can also be found in canine physical therapy. Physical therapy can be used before ailments of the body to strengthen and prevent injury.
More than anything, Doga should be viewed as a special time of communion with your dog. If you have questions about your fitness to do yoga, contact your doctor, and if there is any concern for your dog, reach out to your veterinarian.
Do you practice Doga with your dog?
I’d love to hear about your experience! Leave a comment below or stop by my private Facebook group for dog moms and join in the conversation there!
P.S. Have you ever tried meditation with your dog? It’s another great way to connect on a deep level with your mutt.