Being both a yoga teacher and a dog lover lends itself to searching for an outlet to blend the two. A couple of years ago, I learned I had to look no further than Doga. But, wait, let’s back up- let’s say you don’t practice yoga, but you love dogs and you want another activity to switch up your daily routine. Doga might be the perfect way to ease into a practice of your own, or just another way to have fun, bond and laugh with your furry friends.
To get an expert’s perspective, I had a chat with Kris Allison, a yoga instructor and dog lover who leads community Doga classes in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The events are free to the public, and donations are warmly accepted for a local rescue called Epic’s Pitbull Rescue.
We’ve all heard of the benefits that yoga can offer humans. Mind, body and soul transformations may manifest as a more secure sense of self, greater flexibility and strength, and spiritual awakening (just to name a few!). Because yoga is highly experimental and experiential, Doga is the perfect way to dip your toe in the water before you cannonball right in. You can approach a new and exciting practice with your best bud right by your side.
“One of the best things about Doga is that you get to spend time with your dog where they are your number one priority,” says Kris, “making it a great opportunity for you and your dog to bond.” On top of that, we all know how good our pets make us feel, and how devoting time to serve and give back to them is also good for us. “It’s good for the nervous system. The body releases feel-good hormones after just a few moments when we sit down and pet our dogs, and not only in our bodies, but in theirs! Oxytocin baby!”
After all, who doesn’t want to feel good? I find that even when I come home and call my dog’s names to say hello, I get a rush of happiness. Along those same lines, Kris says that Doga is “just plain fun! If you don’t have a few laughs and a good time in a Doga class, your heart is probably made of coal…” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Maybe your dog is on the shy side, or a puppy (or adult!) who hasn’t had a lot of interaction with others. Doga is the perfect concoction for curing wallflower or hyperactive behavior. “It provides a great opportunity for socialization. The dogs are exposed to many different people and dogs in a calm environment. This helps boost their confidence,” explains Kris.
If you are thinking Doga sounds like a pretty good idea, here is Kris’s list of the top five things to consider:
1. We are here for the dogs. You have to be able to go with the flow and be open to the fact that your dog may not be comfortable doing certain things. It’s okay if it turns into an hour long massage.
2. Practice patience. If your dog is not comfortable with something you present to them, don’t push them.
3. Bring treats and stay positive. Reassure your pup throughout class that they are doing a great job!
4. Keep it fun! Start off with shorter sessions and work up to longer ones. This is supposed to be fun so keep it lighthearted. You may not get a full yoga workout, but your dog will feel really special and loved.
5. Show your gratitude. Even if you don’t make it to your mat, tell them you love them and kiss and hug them daily as often as possible. This is the most important thing you can do for your pet.
I recommend searching Facebook, Google, or asking your local yoga studios if Doga is offered anywhere in your community. If it’s not, but you want it to be, it’s not hard to get a group of dog loving yogis together to start a Doga group of your very own. It’s a great way for you and your dog to meet others, and also a perfect venue for raising funds for a local rescue in need.
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