Yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind. It’s been proven to have numerous health benefits received through it’s breathing exercises, meditation practices, strength exercises and stretching components. Yoga has it all. Studies have demonstrated how it also helps with depression, pain, addiction, and much more.
But have you ever considered doing yoga with your dog? There’s even a name for that – Doga. And it turns out there are good reasons for pet owners to try it.Doga (a portmanteau of “Dog Yoga”) is the practice of yoga with pet dogs.
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. Canine acupuncture and chanting are also known to take place within the occasional Doga routine.Doga is not intended to trivialize the ancient practice of yoga, but to offer a practice to those who may not have yet tried yoga or to someone who would like to share their practice with their beloved pet.
There are generally two doga philosophies: the dog is used as an object or the dog is a partner. The former approach originates from the USA and the latter from Canada.
In First Doga, owners and their pet dogs work as one unit – the owners help their dogs facilitate different poses and, in some cases, the pets are used as props or instruments while the masters perfect their poses. This is seen to be a unique way of practising non-traditional yoga and training, while exploring power play dynamics.
The second Doga philosophy places the dog as a yoga partner in which routines are simultaneously accomplished by human and dog. The person does downward dog and so too does their canine partner. Asanas unravel in a synchronised choreography. The Doga practice serves to create a secure attachment between owner and dog, facilitate training, develop impulse control, relaxation, and meditation. The Canadian version of Doga explores and develops social learning through imitation and cognition. This philosophy sees the dog as an integral partner to the routine.
The UK charity Dogs Trust have also warned that unsupervised Doga may impact the welfare of the dogs, stating: “It is important to remember that dogs can’t tell us when they have had enough. Doga, and any variation of it, should always be carried out under the watchful eye of trained professionals”.
Benefits of Doga:
1. Doga is a fantastic way to bond with your dog, especially when you do assisted poses in which you and your canine work together, as partners. This can help your dog learn how to trust you and strengthen your relationship. When you improve the bond you have with your dog, you also improve the potential for their behavior correction and training
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Doga is also great for dogs with behavioral issues. Yappy and anxious dogs will learn how to become still and relaxed thanks to Doga, but you shouldn’t expect any visible results right away. It takes time for them to achieve this, so try to make Doga a regular part of you and your dog’s schedule for at least a month.
Considering that there aren’t many places for dog owners to socialize outside of dog parks, Doga truly offers a unique and new experience for you and your dog.