Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ask the Doga Instructor: Part 3

an interview with our doga instructor, Jess Wilson
Jess Explains Feeling the Exhale of the Breath
As Tanner, Oliver and I continue our journey in yoga practice, we'd like to help you get to know our instructor, Jess, a little bit better. We love her dog, Nikki B. Isn't she adorable wearing her All Things Dog Blog bandana? A limited number of these bandanas are available in 2 sizes for your dog. If you'd like one, simply RT this message and DM me with your address. I'll ship the bandanas out in early January, first come, first serve.
I have asked Jess a few simple questions to help us better understand her philosophies and strategies. Today's question addresses making yoga easier for even the most challenged of us. You may also find our first two interview questions with Jess quite helpful:
CARRIE:  Some of my readers have indicated that most any pose they have tried has proven to be uncomfortable in any version. Are there any suggestions you can add to your earlier answers about making yoga easier for those of us who find it more challenging?

JESS:  As previously stated, it is with the exhale of the breath that our brains send a signal to our muscles to relax more, so if at first a pose does not feel that great, be patient, give it a few breaths, and see if it starts to feel better. A lot of people shy away from poses because they don’t feel great right away, but let me assure you that not all poses are supposed to feel great right away; in fact, some poses won’t feel great immediately because there is tightness in an area, most likely a joint area, or a large muscle group, that needs to be worked through. If the pose is not held for at least 3-5 slow, deep breaths, you won’t be giving your body the time it needs to work through those tense areas, which will hinder the amount of physical benefit you could be gaining from your practice. 

Take the Supine Spinal Twist Posefor example. This is a pose that never feels great right away, regardless of how experienced you are with the practice of yoga, because of the fact that it is such a deep twist. With the assistance of blankets and pillows behind the back and between the knees, however, it can and will start to feel extremely enjoyable after a few deep breaths, once the hips relax and thereby allow the spine to more easily and comfortably twist. Please do be sure to warm up appropriately, and be aware that this is not a pose for those who have had back surgery or have been advised otherwise by their physician. 

With that said, however, if there is sharp pain felt while practicing a pose, that is your body’s way of telling you that it’s not ready to work through the tightness in that area of the body and you’ll have to work through some other poses first, targeting other muscle groups or joints, before attempting that particular pose again. 

Take the knee joint, for example. There are a lot of poses that could put a great deal of strain on the knees if the hips are tight. When the hips are open, however, there will be very little strain on the knees and the pose will feel good. This is because the hips are connected to the knees; so, the wider range of motion you have in your hips, the wider range of motion you will have in your knees.

The Eagle Pose is a great example of this. Some people absolutely cannot add in the ankle hook option to this pose because their hips are so tight. Without open, flexible hips, the knees cannot possibly be comfortable in the full Eagle Pose, which requires the ankle to hook around the standing leg. So, start the practice of the Eagle Pose with a different pose that helps to open the hips, like the Tree Pose, or start with an even more basic hip opener: Butterfly. Depending on how frequently you practice, and how consistently you practice, you will slowly, but surely, begin to notice an improvement in the flexibility of your hips, which will then make the practice of more challenging hip opener poses, like the Eagle Pose, not only more attainable, but more enjoyable.

Remember that every body type is different, and everyone carries stress in different areas of the body, so if it takes longer than you originally anticipated to release tension from the hips, for example, be patient and kind to yourself and always remain positive and hopeful.  How quickly you progress in each pose is entirely effected by how long you practice, how consistently you practice, and how you carry your stress and tension in your body. This is where your dog can help a great deal; by joining you to help you relax, bond and stay on your mat just a little longer each time you practice.
Building the Bond
Another one of my favorite things about the practice of yoga is the fact that it is a never ending journey. There is no final destination, no milestone that marks the end; to the contrary, yoga is all about the journey and what we learn about ourselves along the way.

There will always be more poses to learn, more variations of poses to play with; more challenges physically, emotionally and spiritually. That’s what makes the practice of yoga so uniquely fabulous, so enjoy your journey and remember to stop to smell the roses, including your dog in that enjoyment. 

You may wish to simply start your journey by sitting comfortably on the mat with your dog(s), enjoying some petting, cuddling, tickling and deep belly breathing. If you start with the bonding aspect of doga, and get your furry companions comfortable with joining you on the mat, you may find that you will be more motivated to tackle new and different poses, all in good time.

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If you're new to Doga or Yoga, please be sure to do these three things: (1) Get your doctor's permission to start a yoga workout, (2) Check with your vet to make sure your dog is able to participate in simple Doga exercises safely, and (3) visit our introductory post where I've outlined a few tips that will help your experience go more smoothly and enjoyable. Keep in mind that you can always stop if a pose is uncomfortable, returning to a relaxing pose.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from #FidosFreebieFriday

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

After a wonderful camping experience along the shores of the Atlantic ocean last weekend, I was just about ready to say "Let's move to the beach." It was chilly and perfect for walks on the sand and through the adorable town of Flagler Beach, enjoying three of my favorite boys. Next up we'll be squeezing in another trip during the holiday season, enjoying a distant destination. More later!

A photo posted by Carrie Boyko (@allthingsdogblog) on

Now let's get to today's Fido's Freebie Friday. Bloggers are invited to list below their currently open giveaways, freebies, and prizes for pets and pet lovers so that readers may visit and explore items to win. You can help to get more awareness by sharing the badge you see in the top of my post. Feel free to put it in your sidebar, if you wish, but don't feel obligated.

Fido's Freebie Friday opens each Thursday afternoon for linkups at 4:00 PM ET, and renews each week at the same time with a new listing.  Link up anytime during the week--24/7. We make it easy to be seen here by keeping our rules simple:

•You have up to 45 characters to describe your prize and include an expiration date.

•Fido's Freebie Friday Blog Hop is open to posts with prizes for pet products or services, including pet-related or pet-themed items for owners. Use your specific post url to link up.
You'll find assistance at our HELP PAGE, where there is other useful information for bloggers doing giveaways and reviews. Your hosts are All Things Dog Blog, DogTipper and To Dog With Love

Happy shopping! 

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Individual rules of entry and guidelines for winning may apply to each listing. All Things Dog Blog, DogTipper, and To Dog With Love take no responsibility for the legality of the rules governing the listings on other sites and giveaways that are posted here. We simply provide this forum as a gathering place for pet product giveaways to be offered. Please consult All Things Dog Blog's Giveaway and Contest Rules for more detail. Fulfillment of each giveaway is done by the blog conducting the giveaway, not by the hosts of this giveaway hop; please contact the giveaway host with any questions regarding a giveaway or giveaway prize.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dog Safety During the Holidays

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Even Costumes Have their Dangers
It seems as though not a year goes by that I don't hear a horror story that involves an ER visit with Fido. Don't let this happen to you and your dog. If your pup wears clothing willingly, that's all good. But remember that adding a hat or other accessory can take his tolerance over the top. While this photo of Oliver may be cute, I will never leave him alone wearing the hat. It may end up in either his or Tanner's belly, potentially causing a blockage. 

I say that with plenty of resistance as neither one of them are chewers. But often those stories I hear come from owners who tell me their dogs were not power chewers either. So play it safe and keep tabs of your dog when he's got anything new, whether it be a toy, clothing item, or new chewy toy.

If you'll be hosting family Fidos, you may wish to protect their safety by dog proofing your house further. Just the same, if you're moving during the holidays, do take time to dog proof your new home. Here are my dog proofing tips.

All of us here at the All Things Dog Blog wish you and yours a happy holiday, no matter what holiday you choose to celebrate. For us, family is first. We'll be spending some quality time bonding and will return after the New Year to bring you our fifth annual Super Dog Sunday™.

Meanwhile, #FidosFreebieFriday continues 24/7/365. Each Thursday by 4 PM ET you'll find a new edition of this #giveaway event with all your favorite blogs joining in. Be sure to visit several times a week to see what's new. Best wishes to you all!

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