It’s no secret that yoga is on the rise. A part of the reason is it’s anapproachable exercise — heck, even your dog could do it! Not to mention,there’s a wealth of health benefits.
By some counts, just 15 minutes of yoga every day can change our brain’schemistry and boost our moods. Other authorities have even deemed yoga a“natural anxiety relief.”
Considering 84% of U.S. adults feel at least one emotion associated withstress, there’s no better time than now to tap into our inner yogis. And,while we’re at it, why not help our pups find their inner “dogi”? After all,our furbabies feed off of our emotions, which means pets too feel stressed.
Good news is you needn’t reinvent the wheel to incorporate your dog into youryoga practice. Here, we’re digging into this relatively new-wave yogapractice, the health benefits of it for you and your pet, plus dog yoga posesto help Fido find their flow state.
What is Doga?
Doga is dog yoga, meaning doing yoga with your dog. It’s also sometimesreferred to as puppy yoga, when you’re doing yoga with a puppy.
And while yoga was introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s, doga was apparentlycoined by yoga practitioner Suzi Teitelman in just 2001. As with any atypicalfitness routine, some are quick to write off doga as a gimmick. Hey, beeryoga, bunny yoga, and even goat yoga exists.
What sets doga apart is that the practice benefits the animal, too. Whiletraditional yoga is a mind-body practice, doga is a mind-body-doggy practice.The flow of energy is between you and your pup, not just your own body. Andjust as humans who do yoga are called yogis, dogs who do yoga are calleddogis. Clever, right?
Generally, doga is practiced in two ways:
- You help your pet strike dog yoga poses.
- Your dog is nearby as you flow through your yoga routine.
Believe it or not, the benefits are about the same for each approach. That’sbecause, above all, doga is a bonding experience with your pup.
6 Benefits of Doga
Given yoga is thousands of years old, it should come as no surprise that itshealth benefits are well researched. One New York University study evenprovided that yoga can improve symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders.
Since dog yoga, on the other hand, only recently came into the fitness scene,the health benefits of doga for pups are not fully researched. Still, thereare some commonly inferred upsides.
1. Improves Physical Health in You and Your Dog
It’s long been reported that pet ownership improves humans’ physical health.In fact, people who own a dog are 54% more likely to get their recommendedamount of exercise, and 73% of pet owners admit their dogs have helped keepthem fit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yoga, which is grounded in stretching and strengthening exercises, improvesour circulation and range of motion — and it can do the same for our pups’physical fitness. For a close example, consider how we turn to hydrotherapy toease our dogs’ arthritic pains and how vets administer stretching exercises tohelp injured pups build strength. In overweight dogs, more movement means theycan lose fat or build muscle overtime.
2. Provides Mental Stimulation for Dogs
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you really should try toimprove their mental stimulation. Doga checks this box. Just attempting toteach your dog yoga poses could help sharpen their cognitive state and alsochange up their daily routine. Think about when you run through the samemotions on the daily. You become bored, restless, and maybe even get intomischief.
Keeping your pooch preoccupied with doga — whether they’re striking dog yogaposes themselves or cocking their head at you — can keep them out of mischief,too. It’s similar to the effects of interactive dog toys. Your furbaby mayeven interpret your dog yoga routine as play. That’s OK, as playtime canelevate their levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calms and relaxes.
3. Offers Opportunities for You Both to Socialize
Socialization is important when it comes to raising our pups. Putting our dogsin different environments can help them become more trusting with strangersand different settings. In the long run, this can make them better travelcompanions and even fitness buddies.
In the case of dog yoga, this opportunity for socialization most often occursin doga classes, whereby you go to a yoga studio with your pet. For petowners, these classes can also make for great opportunities to socialize withlike-minded dog lovers. For pets, the classes may even provide opportunitiesfor playtime with fellow dogis. In the instance you don’t want to attend aclass in person, you can always practice doga at home and feel good knowingyou have a companion. Alternatively, there are scores of doga classes onYouTube if you’d like to feel connected to others, too.
4. Encourages Relaxation for You and Your Pup
While dog yoga poses and exercises can help us burn energy, the stretching andmassage parts of the practice can be calming. Mental stability is one of thebiggest human benefits of yoga and, given our pets can feed off of ouremotions, doga can help your pup become mentally stable, too.
One study even suggests that the mere act of petting your dogs — during a dogyoga routine or not — can decrease our cortisol levels, which decreasesstress. Consider pet therapy dogs on college campuses. With doga, your poochreaps the benefits, too, because when you’re calm and collected, so are they.This can especially be the case in hyperactive dogs.
5. Urges Owners To Check on Their Dog’s Health
Since pet owners coach their pups through dog yoga poses, they’ll findthemselves handling their dogs a lot during a doga practice. And this isgreat, as long as your dog is comfortable with it. Petting and handling ouranimals can build trust and, in turn, makes necessary tasks like nailtrimmings and ear cleanings run much smoother. Think of it as an extension ofbehavioral therapy.
Moreover, the more attune you are with your dog’s body, the more you cannotice any abnormalities. For instance, you may find a questionable lump ortic when petting your belly-up pup during Savasana.
6. Promotes Bonding With Your Dog
Every dog and dog owner is different, so doga routines are not the same acrosshuman-pet companions. Rover might prefer gnawing on a dog treat while youcrush your Warrior 2 pose or maybe Fido finds joy in striking a puppy poseright alongside you. No matter your pooch’s preference, just having them withyou is a bonding experience.
And your dog probably won’t be hard-pressed to stick by your side. After all,dogs are pack animals at heart and they like to mill around with their family.For humans, the bonding experience is almost inevitable. According to onestudy, just petting our animals can also induce a release of oxytocin, abonding hormone.
**How to Get Started With Dog Yoga – read more
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