Dog yoga now available in Las Cruces
Say it with me, slowly:
Ōm. Ōm. Ōm.
Oh yoga! Your delightful mystery is about to get downright playful. The esoteric Asian discipline sweeping America by storm encourages participants to get down on the floor and relax. The most popular mode of yoga, which explains and emphasizes the physical practices of stretching, breathing and relaxing, is called Hatha yoga.
Hatha yoga uses bodily postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dyana) with the goal of bringing about a sound, healthy body and a clear, peaceful mind.
There are at least eight studios or facilities in Las Cruces that offer the practice, which aims to produce inner enlightenment. However, therapeutic, traditional yoga is not known to be particularly exciting. Until now.
New yoga trends gaining popularity this year include aerial yoga, laughing yoga, and paddleboard yoga, putting an uplifting spin on this ancient practice, which originated over 5,000 years ago. But for those of us, like me, who prefer to keep our feet planted on dry land, I introduce “Doga.” With a “D.” This new trend combines traditional yoga with the companionship of your best friend: your dog.
Starting in late October, Your Pet Space, a cage-free boarding and day care facility on Picacho Ave., is offering Doga—dog yoga—on a weekly basis.
And just who does the yoga? You or the dog?
Well, both. There’s light stretching and breathing techniques for the human and relaxation and soft body manipulation for the dog.
It’s important to emphasize that a dog needs to be introduced to yoga slowly and patiently because most dogs don’t understand what’s happening at first. They often resist and feel confused or scared. It has to happen at every dog’s own pace.
A session starts with basic floorwork, which involves the human sitting on the floor with the dog sitting or lying on or between outstretched legs. Simple pushing and pulling movements that involve the dog’s legs, back, neck and tail encourage the dog to stretch his or her body in a variety of ways.
Of course, correct human body positions and breathing techniques need to be practiced as well, but yoga just seems more fun to me when my dog is there.
Not all dogs like all the movements. Be willing to skip one pose or take it out altogether. What’s most important is that the experience is both comfortable and pleasant for the dog. They can’t tell us what they’re feeling, so we have to be very intuitive about their comfort zone.
I’ve seen the most benefit from the “camel” (ustrasana) position, which is like a modified back bend. If your dog will allow you to stretch him in this manner, you know he trusts you. In my experience, once the dog learns about this position, he loves it and seeks it out during sessions. To see my (rescued) terrier mix Rocco, an otherwise hyperactive and apprehensive dog lay on his back and stretch himself into a camel, is rewarding. His body language tells me he’s a happy camper.
Smaller dogs are easier to work with, but there are ways to get the larger breeds to accept and enjoy Doga, too. If you’re willing to get down on the ground, which involves a fair amount of stretching for yourself, you can manipulate a larger dog for a similar experience.
“They can’t tell us what they’re feeling, so we have to be very intuitive about their comfort zone.”
For information about the dog yoga classes contact Joy at:
Your Pet Space
3920 W. Picacho Ave.