Doggy yoga

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Looking for a fun way to bond with your pooch? Get your downward facing dog on with a ‘Doga’ class.

Just when you think you’ve read it all, along comes puppy yoga and puppy pilates classes. Your eyes are not deceiving you, and this is not a drill – pilates and yoga classes, with your best four-legged mate by your side. Stretch Yoga Brisbane hosted a day filled with yoga, pilates, meditation and adoptable puppies from the RSPCA, in late July. The best part? All the puppies at the classes were adoptable, and all the money raised throughout the day went to support the amazing work of RSPCA Queensland.  But even if you’re not in Queensland, you can still give it whirl – with your own Fido.

Why try yoga with your dog?
Twin sisters Adele and Lisa Rancan, of Rancan Sisters Fitness in Mosman, NSW have been running ‘Doga’ classes for years, and say dogs are naturals when it comes to yoga, as they’re already pros at being present in the moment, loving unconditionally and have plenty of patience.  They’re also naturals when it comes to moving into ‘Doga’ poses.  “If you’ve ever observed a dog waking up for a nap, they stretch and lengthen into downward facing dog before they move around,” Lisa says.

Benefits wise, doing yoga with your dog has many - for both of you. Lisa says as well as making you smile and laugh, Doga can help decrease stress levels, which decreases cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases serotonin (the feel-good hormone), as well as reducing blood pressure for the two-legged participants. Yoga also promotes deep breathing and mindfulness, both brilliant for your mental and physical wellbeing.

“We all have busy lives -squeezing so much into each day. We find there is often a special relationship between owners and their pets, and Doga is great for those that experience stress or anxiety, or find it hard to wind down,” says Lisa.

What’s involved in a class?
Lisa says their classes are usually a mix of new and experienced participants, and a range of poses are given to allow two legged practitioners of all levels of expertise a fun session.  After moving through a range of flexibility and tranquillity building movements, they finish with a Doga massage (yep, just like at home, you’ll be the one bestowing pampering on your pet while they lap it up!)

Before attending a class, Lisa recommends walking your dog.

Is it for everyone?
Lisa says dogs of all ages, stages, shapes and sizes can benefit, though if you have any concerns with your dog who has injuries, check with your vet first. Temperament wise, a dog who is happy to be with other dogs and likes making new doggy friends is more suited to a Doga class (though Lisa says they ask all owners to keep dogs on a lead.)

If you’re not near a Doga class, and are keen to give it a whirl with your dog (or perhaps your dog is not a fan over other pooches), you can find online classes and information about Doga – though as always, take care when practicing yoga poses, as incorrect technique can lead to injuries.  Also consult your vet if you have any concerns about its suitability for your dog.


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