Saturday, March 15, 2014

All Things Dog Blog Presents Doga Class

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
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Join us for Bonding Fun and Fitness
It's here! Finally our first Doga class is open, and you get to benefit from this rewarding and healthful exercise, both for your body and your relationship with your dog. Come on in and let's touch on some simple tips before you get started with your first pose.

For starters, are you asking yourself "What the heck is D-O-G-A? The short and simple answer is it is Yoga practice with your dog as a companion.  While some brave and experienced Yogis may balance their dog in precarious ways, I recommend you stick to allowing your dog to enjoy this time relaxing with you, just as you see Jess and Nikki B. doing above, or Toni, my daughter, in the photo below with Oliver.
Toni and Oliver Enjoy Bonding Doga Time
Now that I've said the relax word, you may look back at that and tell me I'm nuts. Here's the thing. Yoga may not relax you immediately if you're new to it, or have done little in the way of balance and stretching work during your life. Dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders and the like may find these activities quite natural. The rest of us will take more time to progress to a comfortable level. That's okay; it's normal. Keep in mind that this is a journey to allow your organs and joints to receive the oxygen and space they need to do their jobs well for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt and enjoy this journey, while including your dog in whatever way you both find pleasurable.

Tanner has sometimes acted as a balancing stabilizer for me, while Oliver occasionally provides a little extra weight in an easy pose that makes for a more challenging workout. Whether your dog hangs out and watches curiously or participates in some way to be a part of your journey, be sure to stroke him and reward him at the end of a workout, possibly offering a small, nutritious treat. Tanner and Oliver especially enjoy organic juicing carrots as a reward. 

 Here's a few checklist items before you start the video:
  1. Don't start a Yoga workout until you have your doctor's blessing. The same goes for Fido. He should be healthy and young enough to enjoy participating, and you'll want to respect his comfort level in all that you do to include him. Just one exception to that statement: If your dog's comfort level includes eating a whole box of reward treats, you'll have to draw the line. Be a tough Yogi!
  2. Good hydration is important to flexibility. Your tissues need fluid to remain supple. Drink a glass before and after each workout, and often throughout the day.
  3. Choose a non-slip surface, working barefooted if you are able, to reduce sliding. 
  4. A Yoga mat will provide both a sure-footed workspace and slight padding for kneeling and sitting. Without a Yoga mat, try a nonslip rug with a rubber backing as a temporary measure. Watch for our Doga mat giveaways coming soon.
  5. Have a small blanket and/or a pillow for those times when some extra cushion is needed for comfort. I find these quite helpful and keep them within reach. You'll find that Yoga blocks will also provide a method for easing a pose.
  6. While Jess will be demonstrating and instructing you in very basic Yoga poses, she will also perform them in some slightly more advanced ways. Please listen to your body and stop when comfort or safety is not certain. Return to a relaxing, comfortable pose and rejoin the video only when you feel comfortable.
  7. Finally, take your time. Stop the video anytime you wish to hold a pose longer or need more time to work into it. This is a journey, not a race. By placing the video within reach you'll be able to control it to stop and start, moving at your own pace.
Before you view the video, here are a few YouTube tips that may be helpful. I'm sure you're all like I am and find yourself checking the length of the video before you start one. (Will we ever have enough time?!!)  This introductory pose is the longest, largely because we want to make sure we guide you through this process carefully, slowly and safely. The remaining videos will be noticeably shorter :)

If you'd like to watch the video later, add it to your YouTube playlist by clicking the clock icon on the lower right in the screen. Full screen viewing is available with the square icon in the farthest lower right. Now, take your time and allow yourself to try this new way to bond with your dog. And remember, it's supposed to be fun; keep the fun in it for both you and your dog--no stress!

By now I hope you're patting yourself on the back for a good first effort at the most basic of Yoga poses. If you're already more advanced than this instruction, I'm sure you felt the descriptions were somewhat extensive for your needs. That's normal for you! Our goal is to start from the very beginning, assuming each of our viewers has never met a Yoga mat before.

If you'd like more challenge, you'll find that each of the succeeding videos will offer an increasingly longer list of ways to enhance your practice. Join us for all of the Doga videos in this series and see!

Today's pose is an easy one to include just about any dog. Your Dane can hang out beside you if he's not a lap dog like Nikki B. or Oliver. Unless you're extremely flexible in the hips, that's probably a very good thing!

Please leave your helpful comments and thoughts below. We would all love ideas for making our workouts easier and more enjoyable, no matter what type of dog we have. In the meantime, we look forward to you joining us again next Saturday for an extension of this pose that will take you a few more steps toward your supple self.

If you're looking forward to advancing your Doga time with your dog, give us a little help getting the word out. More students means more feedback. Ideas help us all grow. Thank you!
Namaste,


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Starting next week, I'll maintain a list of each of the Doga videos in all posts, so that you'll be able to locate them easily and practice more than one pose when you have time. Enjoy!

9 comments:



Kimberly Gauthier, The Fur Mom said...

What a great idea! This weekend, I'm finally joining the gym and I'm so excited to get in better shape so that I can keep up with 4 dogs! LOL



Jess Wilson said...

haha I'm sure you will enjoy how nicely a home-based yoga practice complements all other forms of exercise, @Kimbery Gauthier, The Fur Mom :)



Bias Stakes said...

Yoga is such a lovely way to workout. What I found is that just putting my mat on the floor and doing yoga for myself brings the dogs coming. The peaceful, open energy that comes with yoga and the squashy mat (plus my Mexican blanket I use to keep my muscles warm) caused them to naturally want to join me.

I recommend doing regular yoga for yourself with the dogs in the room for awhile. You get to learn the poses and the dogs want to be with you as you work on the floor.

After you get the hang of the yoga poses, it's time to get the dogs involved. They're probably already hanging out underfoot anyway.

My dogs are medium sized (mid 40 lbs). One way I like to get them involved is having them put their paws on my chest while in mountain. For advanced people, get them up while you're in tree pose. This gives them a long stretch and promotes balance from both of you.



Maggie said...

Love it! Trying it with Lucas... he's 80-pounds of lap dog! I took a few yoga classes several years ago and really enjoyed them. I think your videos are going to inspire me to re-start the practice!



Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Welcome aboard, @Maggie! Tanner, my 70-lb. Golden rescue, is all about doing things connected to me. He waited his turn patiently till this week and really jumped right in. Next week will be even more fun. See ya soon!



Bias Stakes said...

One other thing I like to do is help my dogs get a deeper stretch in their hind legs. As they're both aging now (9 and 10 years), I like to do what I can to keep their hips loose and supple. While doing a forward bend, I place one in front of me and pull her hind legs up (by the hip) and back. This gives her a deeper stretch in a direction she normally neglects when getting up from laying down.



laborders2000 said...

I honestly have never considered doing Yoga with my dogs until now. With all your suggestions and helpful tips, I am looking forward to trying this!



cassandra said...

This is such a wonderful idea. This would be a great way for my dogs and I to stay in shape. I love it! I will definitely be trying this soon.



sa collins said...

I think this is a great idea and can't wait to try it. I include all of my dogs in other activities; however, I never thought to include them in my yoga practice.

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