The session I visited was BYO dog, so I enlisted the help of my trusty hound (a.k.a sooky excuse for a dog) Charlie the cavoodle. He was less impressed by the 6am wakeup call than I was but once his little paws hit grass and he got a whiff of ‘treaties,’ he was raring to go.
At 9kgs, I worried Charlie was not ideal if we needed to do any heaving lifting (I may have been expecting a Lion King-style Rafiki/Simba moment) but when I spotted a sturdy bulldog and a few wiley working dogs, I figured I had it easy. He’s a little on the rolly-polly side according to Dog Check so getting a little more movement was a good idea (and no more using him to vacuum those dropped crumbs!).
We started out with deep breathing while slowly patting our dogs, a move that is believed to build a deeper connection (it probably works a little better if your dog actually stays put). Studies have shown that dogs can sense our stress, particularly through our breathing, and in turn get anxious. Doggy yoga, it's claimed, can have not only a calming effect on us, but a soothing effect on your pooch.
It turns out there was no substituting-dog-as-weight moments except for a brief bout of boat pose when Charlie sat on my lap to ramp up the intensity (big dogs went under your legs to keep you honest). At least Charlie was relaxed in this move – the rest of the time he kept eyeing me as if to ask ‘Why?’ while edging as far away as his lead would allow.
Knowing he gets a little worried with other dogs nearby, I kept Charlie on his leash the entire session. Aside from a few twisted leads this was actually do-able, although next time (if there were fewer dogs and we were in an enclosed area) I would let him loose.
The most popular move among the canine crowd was Shavsana (laying on your back). Most dog friends took this as an invitation to use their owners as a day bed but there were still a few that wandered around willy-nilly.
The best part about dog yoga is that there were dogs everywhere! It was a smorgasbord of joyous pooches. Big, small, fluffy, sleek, black, white, brown, spotted. A great opportunity for doggy socialising – provided your dog is sociable.
Would we do it again? I definitely would! As for Charlie, I think his answer might be a little different.