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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Doga for Dummies: An Introduction

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

With Doga coming soon to All Things Dog Blog, I thought it appropriate to offer a bit of history and insight into Yoga, as the source of this new version that incorporates your dog into your Yoga practice.

Yoga originated in India as an activity to bring the spritual, physical and mental practices together for permanent peace of mind. With continued practice, the stilling of the mind allows one to concentrate with greater clarity. I'm still waiting for that to happen!

The most common form of Western Yoga originated in the 1980's and is referred to as Hatha Yoga. This is the version which seeks to both calm the mind, stretch the muscles and tone the body. Yoga as exercise is a Western concept. 

If you have never experienced a Yoga class, you're in for a treat, while I'm sure you'll also find it to be a humbling experience. I certainly have! As with many forms of physical activity, the instructors tend to make the exercises look easier than they are. Frequent practice is the only route to success. I can vouch for the success of practice; I am improving, so there is hope for all of us.

Yogis from India have long exhibited good health and peaceful lifestyles. Many studies have sought to determine the value of Yoga practice on long term health. In a national survey, long-term yoga practitioners in the United States reported musculo–skeletal and mental health improvements.  According to Wikipedia, apart from the spiritual goals, the physical postures of yoga are used to alleviate health problems, reduce stress and make the spine more supple. Yoga is also used as a complete exercise program and physical therapy routine.

Yoga has many forms and philosophies. It is not my goal to teach you about these or to pose myself as an expert. I most certainly am not. I am a student of Hatha Yoga, enjoying practicing the poses with my dogs as my companions. This is our time; Doga time. In this, I want to share my joy in discovering an activity that is giving me renewed confidence in my physical and mental being, while improving my bond with my dogs. I hope you will join me in learning and growing with this new activity that is both healthful and a wonderful way to calm the mind after a long and stressful day.
Cobra Pose is a Great Time
 for Toy Dogs to Hop on Board

While many students of Yoga prefer a morning workout to awaken the mind and body, I find the value in relaxing the mind and the muscles after a long day. I sleep better and awaken with less tightness. You will soon learn which time is right for you and your dog. I hope you will share your thoughts on this. 

Choose any search engine or search term you prefer and you will be certain to find many potential health benefits to practicing Yoga. It appears there can be no denying this. That said, beginners who forge ahead with too much vigor may often find they experience injuries as a result of overdoing it. Again, many Yoga poses may appear easy until you try them yourself. Suddenly you may find them quite challenging. 

I recommend that you work in a space that allows a stable balance point on all 4 sides of you. No matter which way you turn as your practice evolves, you'll want to be able to reach out to a chair, wall or other solid item for balance and support.

To help assure your success, join us in loose or stretchy, comfortable clothing. As you prepare to maneuver in ways you never thought possible, you'll need your Yogawear to do the same.

Choose a non-slip floor area for work, and use a rug or other cushiony surface to protect bony parts such as your knees from bruising. A Yoga mat would be the ideal, serving as cushion and non-slip for your safety and comfort. Watch for my giveaway of these coming soon.

My own Yoga practice has only recently begun as a way to ease the aches and pains of aging, old injuries and lessened flexibility. I'm going to need your encouragement as much as you may want the same from the group that we hope to form here. Feel free to leave comments, ask for insights and learn from one another.

Usually "Namaste" is done at the end of class because the mind is less active and the energy in the room is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow—the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart. 

Grab your dog, a Yoga mat*, and your humility as we begin this journey of mind, body and spirit--with our dogs. We'll be here with a new Doga pose each Saturday for a few months; we hope you will join in the fun and practice frequently with us. I'll share the links to each pose as we progress so that you may go back and continue to work on those that challenge you most. 

One last request? Please help me get the word out so we can build a community of Dogis; haha, I coined a new word! Click the RT button and tell your Twitter followers:

*Additional comforts for making Yoga practice more enjoyable include a blanket, thin pillow, and yoga blocks for reducing the stretch of some poses to make them achievable for you. I've linked to examples of a few of these essentials to assist you with seeing what you may wish to acquire. While none are absolutely necessary, they will help you to enjoy and progress in your practice.

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Sources for this information include, Yoga Journal and miscellaneous readings. All Things Dog Blog recommends that you visit both your physician and your dog's veterinarian before beginning any Yoga or Doga practice. 


Cocos Mommy said...

What great info! thanks so much for this!

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