Doga is a form of yogic practice which has been specially adapted for dogs; a practitioner of doga is known as a dogi. In a doga session, dogs and their owners work through a series of yoga poses together; the session may also include things like meditation and eye-gazing to strengthen the bond between human and dog. Classes can be found in many parts of North America and Europe, lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, and designed for everyone from novice dogis to experienced yogis.
The concept for doga was developed by Suzi Teitelman, an American yogini, and her dog Coali. Teitelman noticed that her dog was extremely interested in her home yoga sessions, so she started working on yoga poses with Coali, finding that the dog greatly enjoyed the experience. Teitelman assumed that other dogs and their guardians could benefit from doga, so she started leading doga classes, and the trend quickly spread, especially among pampered pets.
While the concept of doga might seem slightly silly, if you interact with animals on a regular basis, you are probably already aware that they practice some form of yoga. Many animals, for example, run through a series of stretches when they get up in the morning, or display amazing feats of flexibility throughout the day. Much like humans, animals keep limber with stretches, and the experience of stretching is probably relaxing as well.
Fans of doga claim that the experience makes their dogs calmer and more focused, and that it increases the connection between human and canine. As human and dog work together, they start breathing in the same rhythms and they often learn more about each other. For older dogs, the gentle stretches of doga can help ease aching joints, while younger dogs can grow more relaxed and easier to get along with. Long-time practitioners of doga claim that their dogs can stretch more deeply as a result of their practice, and that their canine companions have mellowed due to their exposure to yoga.
”Ruff yoga,” as it is sometimes called, is typically held in small classes. Dog owners are expected to bring reasonably well behaved dogs to class, and leashes and yoga mats are usually required. The instructor leads the class through a slow series of poses which includes stretches, balances, and relaxation poses for both species. Yoga with your dog may also include bonding and trust-building exercises to deepen the dog-human connection. Many doga classes also include massage, often at the end of the session.
If you are interested in taking a doga class with a canine friend, you can search for classes in your area with your favorite search engine. You can also contact yoga studios directly, and some gyms offer doga as well, as part of their lineup of classes.