Most people have heard about yoga by now, some may even be avid practitioners, but doga is a new concept that is just gaining momentum. So what is doga? In short: doga is dog yoga or the practice of yoga with your dog.
While discussing holistic treatment options for Canine Epilepsy through the Canine Epilepsy Resource Center mailing list, I was very fortunate to meet Raelene Mercer, who had been practicing doga with her epi-dog angel Montana since 2004. Raelene has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions about her experience.
Q: What inspired you to start practicing yoga with Montana?
At the start of every yoga class one hears “now is the time to set your intention”. Every time I chose same intention: “to Montana’s health”. I visualized my own health filtering into her body. I wished to heal her. I always visualized her with me in the classes. I wished she could have joined me, but no dogs were allowed in the gym of course.
Q: Did she enjoy the classes from the beginning or did she need some encouragement? What was her favourite pose?
In 2004 my local gym started offering an outdoor dog yoga in the park, just a block from my home. perfect!!! I was an immediate student and I knew it would be perfect for us to share. At first I wasn’t sure if she would be doing the poses, or what… I soon learned that the objective wasn’t for the dog to do poses, but to spend some meditative time with your pooch, to focus on the body, healing, balancing, and ask your dog to help you into your poses if possible. She was the perfect partner and did every request with ease. She was the right height to use as a “block” in the triangle pose, and the right weight to climb on me when I was in floor poses. But the very best pose that she helped me with was at the end of the class when I lay down in shavasana (dead man pose). She chose on her own to climb up on my chest, put her two front paws on each on my collarbones and sat down on my chest. She looked off into the distance like a statue. Perfectly still. Perfectly balanced. It was such a great chest opener position for me. Then, since I wanted to offer her shavasana, when I was ready to get up, I lifted up my upper body while holding her back with my hands, thus tilting her upside down to rest on the floor, on her back, between my legs. Her feet flopped to her sides and she would rest there for as long as i sat there, watching her.
It really is a question of whether YOU want your dog with you. Dogs possess patience and would likely love to sit with you as you do yoga postures. Of course, they have to be in a mellow relaxed mood. This isn’t play time.
…and then they deserve a good game of catch or romp afterwards!
Thank you so much, Raelene, for sharing this beautiful story of your relationship with Montana and your practice of Doga.