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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ask the Doga Instructor: Part 5

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Jess Adds a Blanket
Beneath Her Hips for Extra Comfort
CARRIE:  I can’t help but notice that a midday yoga break helps me to wake up and re-energize. Of course, there are certain poses that have exemplary results in perking me up--most notably are the inverted poses that bring blood to brain. I’m also beginning to become more aware of some aspects of my body’s messaging.  These status updates I become aware of would never have been noticed without yoga guidance from you, Jess, as well as a couple of others who have helped me along this path. Can you give us some of the mind-body connection stuff that we’ll gain when participating in frequent yoga practice? This is something I haven’t delved into with my readers, so we’d love to hear your thoughts.

JESS:  It is quite impossible to practice yoga without gaining a better understanding of yourself--physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is because yoga forces us to stay in the present moment. We send our awareness inward, to focus on the movement of the breath. The movement of our breath, then, matches the physical movement of our bodies as we transition from one pose to another. This synchronization of the breath with the body recruits the involvement of our spirit, ultimately making the practice of yoga a very powerful mind-body-spirit experience. As I mentioned earlier, this has a lot to do with the fact that in yoga, we are working within the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for our resting and digesting, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, which is what we use as a fight-or-flight response to stress.

Because of the fact that yoga incorporates the practice of strength building, endurance, balance and flexibility work, we are really increasing the circulation of blood throughout the body and mobilizing all of our internal organs, which is what is responsible for many of the physical benefits of yoga.  It’s amazing how much more energy we find after the practice of even the most basic of poses, like Legs Up The Wall, because of the fact that it brings fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain.
Half Moon Pose
Working My Core and Bonding with the Dogs
Many people do find that it is quite challenging to silence the busy thoughts of the mind during the practice of yoga, especially at first, but even if you are able to focus on the breath, and only the breath, for just a few minutes in each pose, you will instantly notice how much more aware you are, not only of your physical state of being, but of your emotional and spiritual state, as well. Just as I shared before, this increase in body awareness is what prevents injury in our practice and eventually, what makes us safer in our day to day lives. 

The increase in emotional and spiritual awareness that comes from the practice of yoga will yield even more benefits: self acceptance, self love, loss of ego, peace, contentment, freedom, empowerment and pure joy.In the case of doga, we’re adding the synergies provided by bonding with our best friends, our dogs. 

Notes from Carrie:

This past week All Things Dog Blog celebrated our 5th Annual #SuperDogSunday, a football and activity-related event that focuses on our dogs' physical and mental activities-fun and problem-solving. The event drew a record crowd and we--me and my Event Barkers partners--had a blast sharing tips for ways to get your dog into the game and have a doggone good time, sponsored by Zuke's

The photo of me and my dogs above includes another inverted pose--Half Moon Pose--in which I am rewarding the dogs for joining me in our #SuperDogSunday photo shoot. Notice all the Green Bay Packer memorabilia? My family and I are long time supporters of the Packers, my Grandfather having been instrumental in forming the original team. 

Look for more fun ways to involve your dog in your home yoga practice by visiting our Doga page at this link, where our focus is on helping you bond with your dog through yoga.

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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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