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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

8 Things I Learned from Practicing Doga

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Affection During Practice Keeps Me Centered
My Doga series has taught me so much in the last 6 month. I can't begin to share it all. There is much more to this ancient art than I ever thought possible. The simple statements by many yogis about staying centered and grounded still baffle me, yet I think I am just now beginning to understand what these mean for me--my own definition. Here's one explanation of grounding and centering that may interest you if you're curious. I'd have to say that my definition is a bit harder to put into words, but probably lands somewhere in the realm of balance in all aspects of my life. My dogs help me to work at attaining this more and more as we continue to move forward.

I hope that my photo journal of our practices has not overwhelmed you. One or two of my friends' comments made me feel like I may have overdone it. My goal was to share the journey. I do many of the poses with some variation on proper position, in order to manage my own version of the pose. I'll soon be sharing more versions to help you find one that works for you. This has been the most helpful feedback I've received. Each of you need your own way to perform a pose, in which you can enjoy the breath, the relaxation, the centering of your practice and your life.

Here are a few things I've learned from my own Yoga journey. Of course it is ongoing, so I'll continue to add to this list. Will you join me by commenting with your own lessons. I'd love to hear your views on this.
Tanner's Paw on My Heart Chakra: I'm Melting!
  • Each exhale is an opportunity to go deeper into a stretch. I never understood the relationship between oxygen intake and the flexiblity needed in Yoga until this experience. My goal is to stop when I have taken at least 2 breaths without continuing to extend my stretch.
  • My dogs especially enjoy floor poses when I'm at their level and can massage or carress them. This didn't surprise me, but what did was watching their eyes follow me as I move from standing poses to floor poses, and back again. Their attention to my position is amazing.
  • Oliver has gained a degree of trust in me when being lifted, as long as I respect that he prefers to be held against my body for security. We're communicating :)
  • Tanner enjoys watching as well as participating, and often appears to ponder what I'm doing. He'll sometimes bring me a toy as if to offer an alternative to contorting my body. He's such a love.
  • Tanner is quite willing to be my balancing aid for poses that require this. I've found him to be an enormous help in the Airplane pose, a great kisser in Upward Facing Dog, a steady support for Warrior 2 and the Side Angle Pose, as well as a curious friend when I perform Legs Up the Wall. My heart melts when he places his paw on my Heart Chakra.
  • Watch Me is a great command to keep my dogs' eyes on what I'm doing so no one gets stepped on. Who knew we could use my practice to continue the dogs' training?!!
  • Always end with playtime on the floor. That's the ultimate reward for my dogs--interaction and affection. It keeps us all coming back for more practice.
  • Finally, I've learned to laugh at myself when I can't get a pose anywhere in the realm of correct. There is no CORRECT. Sadly, my own sitting forward fold and wide legged forward fold are far, far, far from where I want them to be. The spasms in
    the backs of my legs that are part and parcel to my M.S. will likely never allow me to reach a goal I'll be happy with in foward bends. The good news is that I've been pleasantly surprised with my progress in the standing forward bend. Go figure! Anyway, if I can do this, you can do this.
What's your greatest lesson from yoga? For me it's that I can enjoy my workout in a more relaxed environment, sharing the time with my dogs and enjoying a peaceful workout of my own choreography. Visit our list of posts and videos at Bonding With Fido Through Yoga. The journey continues....

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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 this or any other 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 more relaxing pose for you.


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