Doga, or doggy yoga, which is incorporating dogs into yoga practice, is growing in popularity. Mahny Djahanguiri, a Doga instructor, is also a certified adult and children’s yoga teacher, and says that her practice was inspired by working with the Kids Company charity. “I was working with vulnerable and neglected children,” she says. “These kids come from a pack mentality. Individuality was not an option. I see Doga on the same level.”
But the idea of actually teaching Doga classes came after she saw dogs running around an outdoor yoga class on Venice Beach in 2009. “Yes, this is exactly what I want to do. Bring humans and dogs together through yoga. Doga is not about stretching or bending your dog into weird yoga poses,” she says. “It’s about the owner enjoying their own yoga practice with their dog. Your dog should always be happy and comfortable in anything you do.”
“I do Doga because I need the exercise,” says Michelle Spurr, who runs a pet-sitting company. “And I enjoy exercising with my dog. The dogs really enjoy the attention and touching from their owners. They love human contact and they feel like they are doing something with you.”
Dr Michael Sinclair agrees that although the dogs might not need the Doga, both they and their humans benefit from the calm atmosphere and the bonding that results. “Modern times are stressful,” he says. “People are losing their jobs and there is a great deal of trepidation. Dogs are reliable and trustworthy. They give us security and a greater sense of self-worth.”
Not only does petting and caring for your dog cause release of the hormone oxytocin, which triggers feelings of happiness and relief from feelings of stress and depression but taking your dog to Doga can ensure that you are also getting some exercise. So, next time you are doing yoga and your dog comes wandering over, welcome him/her onto your mat and see what happens.