Imagine breathing through your nose. The air hitting the back of the throat, creating that perfect yoga breath that the yoga teacher is sure to hear. Now imagine your dog’s breath synchronized with your own as he or she stretches out on your yoga mat. Is this a valid practice of syncing body and mind or is it simply a fad?
Doga is not a fad. Even if the most rigid yogis do not embrace this practice as the purest form of yoga, it is, at its very least, a gift of attention and love to your most loyal companion.
There are different ways of experiencing Doga classes. Doga may be viewed as a series of stretches and asanas for the dogi, combined with a touch of massage for those overworked paws. On the other hand, Doga may be an experience that centers more on the human yogi, with the dog becoming something closer to a prop.
Even when Doga becomes more of a service to the canine participant, the human yogi will still benefit by shifting focus to the dog rather than spending more time thinking about every other errand that needs to be completed. Dogis and their humans will also have a secondary benefit of becoming more desensitized to handling, which is helpful for those grooming attempts and vet visits.
Asanas are likely to vary from class to class, and depend slightly on the “level” that the dogi is at. Some dogs may be able to lie still as the yogi practices downward dog and rests the crown of his or her head on the back of the dogi.
Forward fold may be done with a full hug of the companion puppy.
Or, the yogi may decide to give the dog a loving shoulder stretch as the dogi assumes super dog pose.
Have fun and just remember to tune into the breath, be patient, be aware, and be kind to those on the mat.
Available Doga Classes
Survey of the Pittsburgh Yoga scene shows that there do not appear to be regular Doga classes. However, Animal Friends and Schoolhouse Yoga are two organizations that have previously offered these workshops.
In lieu of real time classes, there are at home options. Amy Stevens offers a Yoga 4 Dogs video available on Amazon and other ideas for practice are always just a Google search away.