My dog, Coco Chanel, loves yoga, or in the very least, the yoga mat. Whenever I take out my mat to do a little practice, she runs over and stakes her claim on the mat. Trying to do yoga at home is more of a hilarious than calming practice, as Coco feels that this is a good time to involve herself heavily in my exercise. My normally calm dog becomes a bit crazy during yoga, nipping at my hands, laying under me when I’m in a downward dog, and on top of me in upward dog.
Sometimes when I put in a yoga video I get lucky and she just sits next to the computer and stares at me. Strangely, she seems to particularly enjoy Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga series.
All of this led me to believe that she would enjoy a dog yoga class. Dog yoga classes have been gaining in popularity and are becoming easier to find. I lucked out and found a class at one of our favorite pet stores, the Woof Gang Bakery, led by a real yoga teacher in the dog play room. Fortunately, most of my friends and family already think of me as a crazy dog lady, so no one found my dragging the dog to yoga to be anything out of the ordinary.
A few years ago, the New York Times wrote an article about the increasing popularity of dog yoga: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/dog-yoga/, so I knew I wouldn’t be the only pet owner showing up at Woof Gang with my leash in one hand and yoga mat in the other. Much like human yoga classes, doga classes run anywhere from about $15-25 a class.
I have great respect for the 2,500 year-old practice of yoga and its health and spiritual benefits, and would not describe our dog yoga class as “real” yoga. I certainly understand why many feel that doga trivializes yoga.
However, doga class offers a lot of great benefits for both man and dog. Our first doga class had 8 human and 10 canine participants. We were given some time at the beginning to socialize, so both humans and dogs could become more comfortable. We then began the class, performing gentle stretches and easy yoga postures that a dog could easily be incorporated into. Basically, imagine a room full of humans trying to perform yoga while massaging dogs. I learned a lot of great techniques for helping Coco to relax. She’s a rescue dog and a lot of things make her skittish – so learning new techniques for helping her cope was definitely worth the price of the class.
By the end of the class, an entire room full of hyper dogs had become calmer and more docile. Coco and I both left relaxed and had a lot of fun!