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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dogs Love the Child's Pose

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

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We have worked our way through the modifying tips in our doga workout till we're finally back at Child's Pose. This is one of the most relaxing poses for me, offering an opportunity to join the dogs on the floor--which they love--and completely put my mind at rest as I work through the breathing. You'll find the original video yoga instruction (It's short!) here. 

I've had more emails and DMs about Child's Pose than most of the others, so I'm going to offer a number of ways to make it a little less challenging. Pick those that work for you and go from there. Take your time, remembering to use each exhale to sink further into your stretch. You'll likely be as amazed as I was. Let's get started by working through the numeric modifications I've placed in the collage above:
  1. If you're okay being on your knees but finding that sitting on your feet doesn't work comfortably, try these tips. Roll your feet out and turn your toes of each foot in toward one another. This creates a cupping effect for your backside. Add a blanket or thin pillow to pad the area. One or both of these tips should make it possible for many of you to sit on your feet. If not, no worries. I'll address some other options below.
  2. Stretching first toward the sky, lift your head, arms and chest, while allowing your shoulders to remain down and directly over your hips. After a few breaths, pivot forward keeping your back straight and going only as far as you're comfortable. Engage your core muscles to hold your position, breathing in and out a few times before returning to the beginning, if lowering is not an option for you. Listen to your body and heed it's warnings.
  3. Here's where your big dog may come in handy as a block. Calling him to you, ask him to sit in front of you and use him as a block to aid in your somewhat lower position. This takes some of the work from your abs, while allowing you to bond with Fido. He'll know he's being your helper and will likely beam with pride. Tanner often breaks into a smile after I get settled using him as a block. I just love watching that smile of his.
  4. If you decide you're going to take it a little lower, you'll need space. At this point, ask your dog to slide back. Tanner has a Back Up command; does your dog know Back Up? It's very handy and easy to teach with a pocketful of treats and a daily session, but let's get back to the Child's Pose. Placing your hands on the floor, slowly slide them forward--keeping your back straight--till you're as low as your muscles will allow today. Some days you'll find you are able to take it much lower, while others will find your muscles are very tight. Keep pumping that water to hydrate your thirsty muscles.
  5. When you're low enough to snuggle, by all means grab your dog and enjoy this bonding time. This is just a short distance from placing your head on the floor, which is the ultimate Child's Pose. No need to worry about that goal today. Just find time to bond with your dog while you're at the same level as he is. Our dogs love this!
  6. Moving up to the large image in my collage, you'll find that Oliver has taken an opportunity to try out the saddle position. Who knew!  He's not really taking to it like crazy, but he does give it a shot every now and then. I'm not pushing it, but if I place a treat on my back while I languish in the Child's Pose, he'll often get curious and hop up to snag the yummy. Today's snack was a Good Buddy treat by Castor and Pollux, in a new Fall flavor: Pumpkin and Apple. Doesn't that just shout Halloween?!
Now let's touch on another tip to help as you approach the bottom of the Child's Pose. Using a block or your large dog's back as a block, you can rest your forhead on a comfy spot to keep from having to hold yourself as you hover above the ground. Of course hovering is great for your core muscles, but there's just so much of that you can do. There's a lot you can do to adjust your poses with a set of yoga blocks, and they're cheap as exercise aids go. You'll find a very reasonable brand at this link on Amazon. Be sure to grab 2 so you can keep one on each side. Sometimes moving to grab your block is hard as you continue to progress, and you'll wish you had that second block. Pick your color from this surprising selection. And check out some ways you can use them to modify your position:

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Now let's get back to your feet. Some of my readers have told me that their knees are not flexible enough to make sitting on their feet an option. Here are some other ways to work this pose if you're having knee issues. Don't fight the pain. Yoga should never hurt!
  • Sit on a chair to work the Child's Pose, using the back of another chair to gradually fold forward. The ultimate goal would be to place your stomach and chest in your own lap, but if you never get there, that's okay too.
  • If you're facing the seat of a chair, place a block or a dog (only if he's happy there) on the seat to use as a resting spot for your forehead. Engage your abs and don't forget to start at the top with a good vertical stretch.
  • Follow the rest of the strategies above once you're comfortably seated in a chair and are facing another chair to use in place of the floor. Your knees should be happy now, yes?
Are you interested in trying these Good Buddy treats? They come in 3 mouth-watering flavors: Cheddar Cheese, Peanut Butter, and Pumpkin and Apple. Let's try a giveaway and see what you guys can tell us about your doga practice or other ways that you exercise and bond with your dogs. 

These favorites of Tanner and Oliver's definitely have a #DogaTreats quality. We like to make sure the boys #TreatRight, and at under 22 calories for a full-sized cookie, these are low-calorie and delicious. That's important so that I can offer a bonding snack to reward the boys for joining me, while assuring that I'm not over-feeding them in high calorie treats when they're not burning lots of energy. We'll save the higher-calorie snacks for hiking and other high intensity activities.

Now it's your turn to Tweet about your workouts with Fido and his #DogaTreats. Even if you don't participate in yoga, I'm sure many of you have an exercise regimen that includes your dog. Walking definitely qualifies! Tell us about it and include both the hashtags #DogaTreats and #TreatRight. You can Tweet or Instagram a photo using the hashtag. This giveaway has been extended through midnight Thursday, November 6. We can't wait to see your pictures and your Tweets. 

Not into Twitter or Instagram pics? It's okay. You can just RT mine if you've got a Twitter account: 

This giveaway will remain open through Thursday, November 6. I'll report the winners' names here Friday, November 7. Ready, set, go!

PS. One stat I tend to watch is my top 5 blog post topics. Today I checked this after not paying attention for a good while. Turns out one of my top 5 is 8 Things I Have Learned from Practicing Doga. Enjoy!

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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 relaxing pose.

All Things Dog Blog currently shares an advertisement for Castor and Pollux Pet. We choose to work with this company because we have found their products to be of superior quality. 


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