What is Doga? The most basic definition is “yoga with your dog,” but it’s much more than a fun, pet-friendly activity. Thousands of experts and practitioners swear by the tangible healing properties of Doga for both you and your pooch. If you’re thinking about taking a dog yoga class, here’s everything you need to know about what it involves, why it’s more than a fad and where you can try it.
They Don’t Call It “Downward Dog” for Nothing
Whether they realize it or not, dogs take part in a form of dog yoga every day. When they’re not sleeping and eating, they’re contorting their body into a variety of shapes by stretching, lunging and yawning. This makes them perfect partners for Doga. Along with their flexibility, canines are born with an innate ability to live in the moment. This natural tendency, something that humans strive for during a yoga session, is a blessing for dogs.
To learn more about yoga with dogs, I spoke with one of its pioneering trailblazers. “I have the privilege to be the founder of Doga in Europe, and to be able to teach humans and invite them to surrender what is sacred and innocent,” said Mahny Djahanguiri. She is the author of the book, “Doga–Yoga for you and your dog” and a practicing instructor in London. You might have even watched her achieve worldwide fame when she and her dog successfully auditioned on Britain’s Got Talent.
Mahny is convinced of the positive benefits of the practice, but worries that some people don’t take it seriously enough. “I often come across as this lunatic who is obsessed because the media doesn't edit the footage correctly,” she said.
“They don't even show a before and after. They just show humans lifting and swinging dogs around and some superfluous text saying, “Now you can bring your dog to yoga.” Most footage looks pathetic and we look like idiots, and it really isn't what’s happening behind the scenes.”
To Mahny and her enthusiastic students, it’s no joke! They believe the science behind Doga is very real. “Healing is what Doga is all about. Dogs really can heal humans and visa versa,” she said.
“If the owner’s central nervous system replenishes, then so does the dog’s. The fight or flight system is accessed in the sympathetic nervous system of a human as well as a dog. If the nervous system starts kicking in, which is responsible for sleep and digestion, then the active system and the brain can replenish. This process can happen in a 90-minute Doga class if we allow it.”