I just got back from our 2015 SARA retreat at the gorgeous Ratna Ling Retreat Center; what a wonderful, inspiring and relaxing time! We offered on-site daily yoga classes to our participants … but wow, did I miss my dog Mystic! If only there were some way to combine yoga and dogs.
Well, of course there is! You may have even heard of the trend, called “doga,” which has been rising in popularity in recent years (and gives new meaning to the term Downward-Facing Dog). Doga just makes sense: As I’ve learned in my animal Reiki practice, animals are very spiritual creatures and the best meditation partners. They also love to accompany their beloved human everywhere and get extra attention any way they can, whether it’s walking on the beach, sitting under a tree or even doing yoga!
Depending on your dog’s personality (and size), doga can be an amazing way to strengthen your bond with them, relax together and practice mindfulness. Though there are many doga poses, one of the most common, according to Today.com, is the Chaturanga, where your dog lies on his or her stomach while you pet their back.
Classes are cropping up across the nation, at studios like: YogaForce in Burlingame, California; Deep Dog Yoga in Yorba Linda, California; Ganesha Yoga in Chicago; Austin Doga in Texas; BKS Yoga Studio in Naples, Florida; and at the SPCA in Tampa Bay, just to name a few. In the Midwest, Indianapolis recently offered a doga event before its huge Mutt Strut fundraiser in April.
If you can’t find a class near you, there are plenty of books on the subject, including Doga: Yoga for You and Your Dog by Lisa Recchione and Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi by Brenda Bryan. Yoga instructor and author Bryan is widely regarded as one of the originators of the trend.
And because we can’t forget about cats, it’s worth noting that this Illinois yoga studio recently had the genius idea of bringing six shelter cats into a yoga class. It’s not only relaxing for the animals (and humans), but also helps boost awareness for the shelter and increase adoption rates at the same time.
I can’t tell if this video is serious or not, but here’s an interesting (and very cool!) demonstration of doing yoga with your cats (the cats definitely don’t seem to mind):
What do you think of doga (or cat yoga)? Have you tried it?