Anyone who practices yoga knows full well the many benefits that can be derived from it. From improved flexibility and strength to reduced stress levels and less tension in the body and mind, it has already been established that yoga can work wonders on humans. But can it have the same effect on animals, particularly your pets?

Dog yoga, referred to as doga, is a form of pet yoga that has become popular among pet owners who want to bring the healing benefits of this ancient practice to their furry companions. Read on to learn more about it and how it can benefit your dog, as well as what precautions you should take to ensure your dog’s health and safety.

What’s Involved in Doga?

During a typical doga class, which can last anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours, dogs and their owners execute a series of asanas. Sometimes the dogs are utilized almost as weights or props, while other times, it becomes a form of partner yoga between canine and human. For example, during Warrior I, a dog may be lifted towards the sky, or a dog may simply rest on a person’s bent legs during Boat pose. Other poses allow both the dog and the human to rest together. An example is holding your dog in your lap during a seated forward bend.

Unity Between Dog and Person

The purpose of doga is to create a stronger bond between a dog and his human guardian. Because yoga focuses upon unity between body, mind, and spirit, doga practitioners have found that, when they practice their asanas with their dogs, they create an even stronger bond than they had before. Meditation, chanting, massages, and stretches are also incorporated into a typical doga session. These are all meant to calm the pet and the owner while strengthening their connection to one another.

Other Benefits of Doga

Dogs are able to pick up on the emotions of their owners and on the energy that surrounds them in the environment, so doga’s benefits extend beyond improving the bond between a human and her dog. Practitioners say that they notice their animals are calmer after a session, and that puppies, in particular, become more focused, which may help in training them to behave properly. Essentially, the same feeling of calm, that sense of being relaxed, and that inner joy and glow you feel after you rise from your Savasana is what your dog will experience as well.

Doga may also benefit dogs who are overweight or who have been injured. The key is executing the postures and stretches gently and correctly, so it’s imperative that you work under the guidance of a trained and experienced doga professional, making sure you tell them all about your dog’s condition prior to joining the class.

How Can Doga Help People?

Doga isn’t just good for your dog; it’s also great for you. As a pet owner, you probably already recognize the immediate stress-relieving benefits you derive from spending time with your dog, whether you go for a run together or you choose to relax at home. Simply petting a dog can reduce tension and bring your blood pressure down, calming the entire body and your mind. It’s no wonder that people who practice yoga love bringing their dogs to the mat as well, where even more relaxation and natural healing can occur.

Things to Consider Before Signing Up

Canines who participate in doga seem to really enjoy it. The practice can benefit animals who are left alone for long periods, as it’s a time set aside for truly bonding with their owners. And pets who have been adopted from shelters or who have suffered from any kind of abuse in the past can also reap the benefits of doga to improve their health and happiness.

If you feel that your pooch would like doga, especially if he suffers from stress or anxiety, there are things that you should consider before signing up. For example, if your pet won’t be able to relax and obey during a session, it’s best to train him some more first. Otherwise, you and your dog could end up being unwanted distractions in class. Also, be sure to sign up for a doga class that’s taught by a trained and caring professional who is knowledgeable in ensuring the safety of the people and their pets, as there is a risk of injury for both you and your dog if the postures aren’t executed properly. And, finally, be sure to keep an eye on your dog and know how to read him so that you can gauge when he has had enough. Taking these simple steps can ensure the practice will be safe and beneficial for everyone involved.