Doga Classes: Yoga with Your Dog
Our lives are jam-packed with commitments and responsibilities, leaving little time for rest and relaxation. That's one of the reasons why yoga—with its time-tested benefits of stress-reduction—is a positive choice for on-the-go individuals who need a bit of downtime.
According to data published by yogajournal.com, more than 20 million Americans practice yoga, and according to data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 43 million households in the United States have at least one dog. What if there was a way for pet parents to combine their enthusiasm for yoga while spending quality time with their dog? Good news! There is, and the answer is "doga."
What is doga?
The word doga (rhymes with yoga) is a combination of dog and yoga, and its definition is exactly as the name implies—a yoga session in which your pet dog participates in meditating, stretching, massaging, relaxing, balancing and more—with you! While yoga is an ancient practice, the emerging idea of doga is still relatively new. The specifics of doga vary widely, but the overall emphasis is to promote a bonding activity for you and your dog in a setting where relaxation, play and unity come together in an enjoyable experience that dogs and pet parents can benefit from equally.
The favorable relationship benefits are paramount for many doga enthusiasts, as the practice is an innovative way to spend one-on-one time with your dog in a calming atmosphere that fosters positive emotions and trust.
Getting started with doga
Since some of the elements of doga can involve stretching, massage and acupressure, you'll want to consult with your veterinarian before embarking on any doga activities. Once you've established a safe doga routine that is designed to promote your dog's physical and mental health, you'll want to slowly introduce your dog to the process. While some dogs are always eager to try anything new, others may be leery of doga activities. Always exercise caution and patience: some dogs are slow to become comfortable with posing on the mat or working on stretching exercises. Be sensitive to their hesitation and provide encouraging reinforcement by helping your dog to associate the yoga mat with positive experiences, such as playing with a toy together.
Join the fun
Are you ready to get started? If you're unsure where to begin, check to see if doga classes are offered in your city; the regular outings to yoga classes can be a great way to socialize your dog while allowing you to share the experience as a pair.
Humane societies occasionally team up with yoga instructors to hold doga events—sometimes as community fundraisers—so ask your local humane society if this is something that they offer. A doga event can be a great way to get acquainted with the practice of doga and to meet other doga enthusiasts who share similar goals and experiences.
If you can't find doga activities in your area, don't despair! Contact local yoga instructors to see if they would consider offering a doga class, or gather up a few interested friends and their dogs and pursue doga activities as a group. Instructional books and DVDs can be found online and provide invaluable material for the beginning or advanced doga enthusiast.