Yoga has become a weekly—if not daily—ritual for people that is literally bursting with well-documented health perks. From mindfulness and meditation to breathing exercises, strength and stretching, yoga is often considered one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing.
But, have you ever considered amping up these benefits by practising yoga with your dog? We repeat, with your dog? Basically, humans help dogs perform poses and then perform poses themselves while the dogs mill around socialising. It turns out that dog yoga, aka doga, can work wonders for the health of both you and your pup. Here’s how.
Mental health benefits for both of you
Hands up high if your pooch brings you an unbridled sense of joy, comfort and ease? Well, you’re not alone. In a survey of pet owners, 74% reported health improvements from pet ownership. According to the study, positive human-animal interaction is related to the changes in physiological variables both in humans and animals, including a reduction of subjective psychological stress—like fear or anxiety—and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain. Basically, more time with your pooch makes a happier you!
Not to mention, yoga is known to be extremely good for mental health. It promotes higher levels of GABA production, acts as a natural antidepressant and improves self-awareness, meaning that the combination of spending time with your dog AND doing yoga is a natural high waiting to happen.
It’s also been reported that doga is great for dogs with behavioural issues. Yappy, anxious dogs will—over time—learn how to become still and relaxed thanks to doga, but you shouldn’t expect any visible results right away. It could take at least a month to start seeing results in your pooches behaviour, so make sure you incorporate it consistently into your routines.
Ultimately, doga is still a form of exercise and so its benefits range from fat loss, muscle growth and blood circulation, for the pair of you.
In addition, doga usually appeals to a dog’s natural instinct to stretch, which can help them improve their flexibility and range of motion, keeping them in tip-top physical condition! All the while, the physical health benefits of practising yoga for you are endless.
Doga is a brilliant way to bond with your dog, especially through trying ‘assisted poses’—where you and your furry friend work together. These poses can help your dog learn how to trust and strengthen your relationship—which will, in turn, improve the potential for their behaviour training.
Because doga requires relaxation and a deep focus from both parties (but again, don’t worry if your puppy takes a while to get used to it!), it really offers an opportunity for deep, authentic connection and bonding.
We spoke to Fiona Rigg, founder of premium dog treat purveyor, PAWDinkum—who has made doga an integral part of her wellness routine, and asked her for a quick, straight-forward doga pose to get you started.
1. Begin by sitting in the relaxed ‘Cobbler’ pose: a sitting position on the ground with your dog in between your legs.Never force them into poses.
2. Keeping your legs bent, knees down and relaxed your back straight and shoulders pulled back
3. Start with stoking and patting your dog, then rub their ears.Starting from the head and working your way out to the outer tips (dog ears have acupressure points). Then start gently rubbing their jaw.Whilst doing this, you can stretch forward over them to give your back a nice stretch.