Doga – Yoga With Dogs.


Holidays4Dogs has plenty of articles on activities you can do with your dog, but have you ever considered a joint yoga class with your pooch?  Doga – or yoga with dogs – is fast becoming a trendy new way of dog and owner exercising together. Read on to find out more.

Doga beginnings.

It was first taught by Suzi Teitelman in New York in 2002, after she discovered that her cocker spaniel enjoyed sitting on the yoga mat while she was exercising.  She began to work with him, using his body to compliment her own moves and eventually incorporated him into her classes.

Many followers believe that the exercises are not only beneficial for people, but for their pets too. Dogs pick up on the calm, relaxed environment and the whole experience between dog and owner deepens the bond between the two. Many owners who have attended classes say that they have never seen their pets so calm and relaxed.

Doga in the UK.

In 2012, animal lover Mahny Djahanguiri began teaching the first doga classes in the UK. Her trademark Dogamahny classes were born from working with disadvantaged children in London.

She found that, just like children, dogs tend to mimic their owners breathing patterns. She realised that along with ‘yogic’ breathing and massage, the dog’s heart rates became slower. After about twenty minutes many dogs would fall asleep, completely relaxed on the yoga mat.

Dogs are never forced to join in. Indeed Mahny claims it can take several weeks before dogs begin working with their owners.  Some teachers liken doga to dance; where the dogs become dance partners. More importantly, it is said to create balance and harmony via energy flows between dog and human.

Mahny explains that sometimes, people become too bogged down in the idea of controlling their dog. This can create disharmony and conflict between dog and owner.

However,  while engaging in doga, the natural bond between human and animal is often re-invigorated.

Mahny also points out that smaller dogs are ideal as physical ‘props’ to enhance the human yoga position. For instance, a small dog can be swung onto the hip for the triangle pose and the dog can feel the pattern of his owners breathing.

The surprising benefits of yoga with your dog.

Many people might consider doga to be nothing more than a fad for eccentric (and wealthy) dog enthusiasts. However, it may not be quite as barking mad as you first think. When you really consider the concept, there are many benefits that could clearly have a positive effect on both dog and owner.

For people who enjoy nothing more than having their dog accompany them wherever they go, doga is ideal.  More than this, it is a calm activity that impacts on dog behaviour.

Yoga with dogs helps the owner to become more aware and in tune with the body language of their pet. In the process of letting go of everyday tensions, a person can begin to understand the positive effect of living in the moment, just like dogs do.

Relaxed and calm.

More than a dog training, or socialisation class, the aim is relaxation. People who attend classes find that their dogs quickly settle into the weekly routine. In addition, the experience is a positive one. Therefore, the dog associates calm feelings with groups of strange people and dogs.

Yoga enables the parasympathetic nervous system to prevail over the active nervous system, (flight, or fight responses). Many people report that by the end of a sixty minute session, their dogs are practically comatose with feelings of relaxation!

As well as this, being in such close contact with your dog also gives you the opportunity to go over your dog to check for lumps and bumps. It also helps to teach a dog to accept examination of his body. Helpful for vet visits, nail clipping and grooming.

Older dogs, and dogs with disabilities, also benefit from doga as long as the exercises are adapted to suit. Doga ultimately provides the dog with undivided attention. By engaging the dog in human yoga exercises, it is possible to enhance the natural bond we have with our pets.

Further reading.

If you want to find out more about doga you can buy Mahny’s book ‘Doga – Yoga for you and your dog’ published by Hamlyn.