Doing things with your dog is the best way to bond with her and continue building your relationship. But who would have thought just a few years ago that the list of dog+owner activities would include yoga? Doga, if you will. Now, you and your pup can share this experience to stretch and strengthen your muscles and find your inner Zen.
Doga is all the rage worldwide, so of course you can you avail yourselves of this opportunity in Australia. We’ve compiled a few suggestions for you. But, first, if you aren’t already familiar with dog yoga you might be having more than a bit of trouble visualizing the experience.
What, exactly is dog yoga?
This must-watch video reveals all, as demonstrated by Secret, the Australian shepherd/Border collie, and her FurMom. It’s clear why this dog has become an Instagram sensation. Your own dear pup may not ever reach this level of doga expertise, but so what? The point is to do it together. Besides, as doga novices you will want to start with simpler poses that are more easily managed (for both of you).
You can practice dog yoga no matter the size of your canine sidekick. Clearly, a nearly-weightless Pomeranian is easier to heft than, say, a German shepherd, but there are ways to modify the poses to match the realities of your situation. So says Suzi Teitelman, and she should know because she invented dog yoga. (She’s not an Aussie, she’s an American living in Florida. But she has trained many doga instructors around the world.)
So, where in Australia, can you go to practice doga?
Well, you don’t even have to leave home. The aforementioned Ms. Teitelman offers “live via Facebook” doga workout video, so you can just follow along. Fear not, she promises, doga is “a gentle practice with a lot of massaging, light stretches, relaxing and bonding.” You’ve got this!
In Sydney (the suburb of Mosman, actually), the Rancan Sisters Fitness Studio was the first place in Australia to offer dog yoga classes. The sisters, Adele and Lisa, say doga is great for exercise and bonding any time but especially when the weather outdoors is less than inviting. It is also ideal for dogs that aren’t a great match for strenuous physical exercise such as running or biking. Furthermore, the sisters say doing doga in a group setting produces more “powerful energetic healing.”
And that healing extends to dogs as well as their humans. The Rancan sisters say their sessions have helped many dogs to become happier and more relaxed around other dogs
No dog? You can still do doga
In Melbourne, Studio 3 offers one-hour sessions with puppies. Wolfhound puppies, mind you, and all of them rescues from Second Chance Animal Rescue. Even as you’re stretching and soothing your way to inner peace, you can feel even better about yourself, knowing that proceeds from doga classes benefit the rescue organization. And if it turns out you’re feeling especially sympatico with one of the puppies, you can even adopt him or her.
Once you do have a pup of your own, you can explore all the great doggie adventures Melbourne has to offer. For example, you could join a dog walking group. If you find enough like-minded pet parents, you could then form your own doga group.
In Brisbane, Stretch Yoga has been doing some pop-up puppy yoga sessions this spring, also to benefit their local RSPCA. Will they offer more in the coming months? You’ll have to check in with them to inquire.
Take your doga on the road
Once you and your four-legged yoga partner have mastered some poses you will be able to take your skills with you wherever you go. This is great, because Australia is an enormous country with an enormous variety of dog-friendly places to visit. We can picture it now – you and your dog, doing downward dog for two on a beach somewhere . . .