Downward Dog - there's DOGA thing going on.
Author: Caroline Bate
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For those of us who have taken up Yoga, you will know that there are so many benefits to our health and wellbeing combining balance, body, peace and mind together. Many of us will have our favourite poses, mine just have to be the Salute to the Sun and Downward Dog whilst watching the sun come up on an early morning with absolutely no distractions. A major part of Yoga is breathing and finding your own mind space, that part where you can truly let go of the busy life you lead and concentrate on your own thoughts and body.
But what about making it fun too, have you ever thought of getting your dog involved? No?... until this week I was certainly with you on this...barking mad?..perhaps not, I listened and I was converted.
I had read about Dog Yoga or as it is known DOGA but never really had thought about taking it up, that was until I talked to a dog behaviourist at the Discover Dogs Event in London this week. I am working with Poppy's Picnic the most fabulous Raw Food Dog Company that a family friend launched a year ago from his Wiltshire base and whilst she wanted to know about the menu's we also got talking about the benefits of raw feeding for fitness, stamina and general wellbeing. I just fell in love with her dog, he was so calm and in tune with his human and, only minutes before had been in the middle of a ring in front of hundreds of people. She mentioned that she attends classes in DOGA and within minutes we were joined by another lady who had overheard us and she really wanted to find out more about Doga too. And so, it seems that Dog yoga is officially a thing and not something that I have read in my weekly reviews, truly this is the best news you’ve heard all day..right?
Doga involves about 20 different yoga poses that you can do together with your dog and with each yoga pose you place your dog in a position too. The exercises are great for bonding, balancing, toning, and for calming your four pawed pal. Doga classes outside of London are starting to pop up and are becoming more popular, not only will you will find yourself in the company of contemporary Yogi's and Yoga loving people but also like minded dog lovers and their dogs too. Doga is becoming popular as they have been found to be extremely useful for both dogs and their owners in more ways than one. Now this is my kind of exercise class, not a pair of skinny lycra shorts anywhere.
And so, you may ask why, what are the benefits, do the dogs understand?... I did right!
Well just think about this for a moment, your dog watches your every move and they pick up on your signals as quick as Jumping Jack Flash and they react to this. And so, it’s truly a great way to bond with your dog, the exercises are both relaxing, slow, calming and your dog will soon see that it is important they follow their pack leader too. It is a great way to meet like minded dog loving people that you would not normally meet in the park and a great way to socialise your dog with both other dogs and their humans all doing the same thing
Doga combines yoga, meditation, gentle massage, and stretching, it is ideal for anxious or nervous dogs as it helps to balance their energy and calm them down. It is their instinct to read your energy and to match the energy around them. When they’re born, dogs are deaf and blind and so they learn their mother’s pheromone scent and respond to the energy around them. If you are stressed, your dog will seem stressed or anxious too, they pick up on this and respond the same way. Have you noticed when something exciting is happening, they have a lot of energy too?
According to Susi Titleman the Florida based Yoga teacher and creator of Doga findings are that habitually hyper or nervous dogs placed in a room full of quiet, relaxed people, doing yoga poses will adapt to the energy in the room and in turn, relax and calm down. It does take time to understand and get used to, but it is a learning curve. The trick is, patience, calmness, no eye contact, low soft voices, slow movements and reasurrance.
For those Dogs who have hit the middle aged spread, just like us humans the way to get rid of those unwanted extra pounds is good regular exercise and look at the way you eat. Changing up to a natural diet always helps and it is never too late to change both our diet or the way we think and exercise. Attending a Doga class at least once a week with practice at home in between is something that you can do together and being a gentle exercise it is helpful for obese, elderly and injured dogs. Yes, it is a unique way of training, use that energy and time as a bonding opportunity to coach them into listening and cooperate whilst doing something fun, it will also stimulate their mind.
Your dog could probably teach the very best of Yogi's how to master the Downward Dog but there are 19 more poses to learn and new friends to meet.
So....right, where is my nearest class in Cheshire?..and oh we have 2 dogs...hmmm right I need my teenage boy to come too....now where are my notes on Yoga for teenagers and how to teach them not to have parties when Mum is working in London..oh Nathaniel, boy do you have many chores to do this weekend to make up!..(looks to the heavens for help!)
Caroline, Hunter & Finnbar
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Credits to Dogamahny for their Youtube video below:
You can also purchase their book Doga: Yoga For You And Your Dog, By Mahny Djahanguiri
You can find their classes in Camden London.