Downward Doggy


Downward Doggy

By: Arielle Parris

Here at Gaiam we know the importance of yoga for kiddos. Our bright, playful teeny yogi collection inspires even the littlest ones to come to the mat.

Since I have yet to have a human child, I have started getting my fur baby involved in my practice. So here are a few tricks for yoga for you and your dog.

Let Go

Step one of doga (dog yoga) is releasing expectations. When I started helping my puppy (who is just now turning six months old) stretch, I was taught again and again to let go. I might have a pup-and-me class planned out, but my pup might only be interested in five minutes before running off to chew on a delightfully smelly sock.

By releasing preconceived notions of what a good practice might look like, you are more able to be in the moment and enjoy exactly what your practice looks like right now. Dogs already know that—so it’s up to us to follow suit.

“Yoga is not about self-improvement, it’s about self-acceptance.”—Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

Practice Poses

Doga is a little different than our typical yoga practice. Here are a few poses that I’ve found useful for my dog and I.

  • Chair Pose: Ask your dog to sit on its hind legs. Sit behind your dog and wrap your arms around them. Place your hands on your dog’s front paws and gently raise them into the air. Hold for a breath and release.
  • Heart-to-Hound Mudra: Doga is about connecting with your pup more than completing some complex position. Move close to your dog as they sit or lay down. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your dog’s heart. Close your eyes and breathe slowly, taking in the moment.
  • Chaturanga: Have your dog lay down on their stomach. Sit behind your dog and gently massage their back, keeping focus on the present moment and your breath.
  • Savasana: Last, but not least, ask your pup to lie down. Gently pet their stomach and watch as their breathing calms. Pro tip: if your dog loves to be cuddled, as mine does, place them on their back with two pillows to cushion either side. They will feel even safer and more relaxed with the extra support.

With each pose above, remember that this practice is about forming a bond with your dog. Perhaps you won’t get exactly the right look, but the point is to be together.

“Yoga means union, in all its significances and dimensions.”—Indra Devi

Be Teachable

Watching my puppy chew a bone enthusiastically for two hours straight teaches me more about meditation and presence than any guru ever has. Dogs are always right in the now. I try and end my yoga practice with ten minutes of meditation together. My dog doesn’t need the practice, but I sure do.

“The present moment is the only moment available to us and it is the door to all other moments.”—Thich Nhat Hanh

Learn More

There are plenty of resources to deepen your practice with your dog. Many metropolitan areas have doga classes occasionally, and some instructors are willing to teach you and your pup in your local studio—just ask!

If there are no classes near you, expand your practice at home. Find Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi by Brenda Bryan online today.

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