Doga 101: The why, what & 15 poses to kickstart your dog yoga

doga dog yoga
If you practice yoga and are also a dog owner, you probably know all about the times you open your mat and want to start connecting to your inner self. Then you hear the footsteps, you feel the wag of a tail on your face and you know, yes my dog will not let me practice yoga – yet again.
But maybe he or she are not ruining your practice. Maybe they just want to tell you something; like “hey pal, let’s do this together.” Maybe they are into DOGA!
Believe it or not, DOGA (Dog Yoga) could be another chance to do some bonding with your best friend. All you have to do is find the right poses to do together.

In this guide, you will learn how to start practicing Doga with your pooch, the benefits of Doga for both you and your furbaby, and 15 Doga poses. Get your yoga mat ready because it’s Doga time!

Table of Contents

Photos by Diego Rosman: Website / Instagram
Doga Poses By Karen Ann & Shani Oren

“Did you know that there are over 300 words for love in canine?” – Gabriel Zevin

What is doga?

Doing Yoga with Dogs
Doga (dog yoga) has been around in America since 2001 and has spread around the world since then. Doga was originally the brainchild of Suzi Teitelman, who is a yoga teacher in Jacksonville, Florida.
We all know that our pup likes to be by our side all the time no matter what we are doing. Having your pooch as your yoga partner is the pawfect way to get some physical and mental benefits for both of you.

Although your pup may not be able to do many of the yoga poses, they often try to do them all right alongside you and they benefit from the stretching and concentration. After all, where do you think the “downward facing dog” pose came from? 🙂

Healing is what Doga is all about. Dogs really can heal humans and vice versa.

Doga: Benefits of Doing Yoga With Your Dog

Not only are you getting the physical and mental benefits of the exercise and meditation, but you are also getting the bonding and endorphin boosting properties that come from being with your best fur-iend. Here are some of the benefits that Doga can give you and your pooch:
Bonding with your dog:  The most im-paw-tant benefit for both of you is the bonding experience. Just as you bond with your human children when they are born, these kinds of activities can bring you and your pup closer too. Your dog gets the feeling of being wanted and needed and learns to trust you while strengthening your relationship.
Healthy exercise: If you have a hyper dog, Doga can help them mellow out some. The physical exercise will help by burning off some of that excess energy. The massage and stretching will help calm them mentally. And you would be surprised at how your anxious or yappy pooch can become calm and relaxed.
Relaxation: Doga is paw-fect for relieving anxiety and the stress from your day (week, month, year). The deep breathing and stretching will also help burn off some of that excess energy your pooch may have as well as stretching out that muscle tension.
Outdoor Activities: Doga can let you enjoy outside activities and not worry about leaving your dog behind. Classes can relax both you and your furbaby to help with other training. It also reinforces your furbaby-human connection.
Injured dogs: Is your dog recovering from some type of injury? If your furbaby has recently gotten hurt and is recovering, stretching those muscles can give some relief to the pain. It releases muscle tension and gets that blood flowing where it needs to be to heal those injuries.
Socialization: Taking a Doga class is a paw-sitively great way to meet other pet parents and their furbabies. This is especially good for those who do not enjoy the craziness of the local dog park, which is often crowded. Being surrounded by other pets and their pet parents in a relaxed atmosphere is healthy for body and mind.

Similar Interest: Have you ever met someone you really like at a party or work and then find out they don’t like dogs? That is an instant red flag. Joining others who enjoy Doga is also great for you to meet others who are interested in the same things you and your pup are. 

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” – Dean Koontz

How to Start practicing Yoga with Your Dog?

How to Start practicing Yoga with Your Dog
Here are some tips to get you started.
Lose Those Distractions: Go dark. Shut off the television, turn your phone on silent, and silence anything else that could interrupt your doga session. You can turn on some music if you like. Something relaxing that will make you and your pup calm and introduce you into deep relaxation. Aromatherapy and candles can also be relaxing for you both.
Don’t Push Your Pup: Your dog may not take to it at fur-st. Don’t try to force him into being a doga master. Take it slow and easy to let him get used to it. If you try to force your dog, he may never like doga. Just like with any yoga session, it is not something you can learn (or teach) in one day. You want your pooch to enjoy this time together so he will want to do more with you.
Work Your Way Up to It: Start with easy poses that your body is able to handle at first. Just like your dog, if your first experience with yoga is not pleasant, you may never want to do it again. Just sitting on the floor with your dog in front of you can let you both get used to the idea before trying anything more challenging. Put your shoulders back, open up your chest, and align your spine. Try to match your breathing up with your dog’s. You can also try massaging your pup’s head to relax him and you.
“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” – Roger A. Caras

15 Doga Yoga Poses & Positions

According to Karen Ann, Fitness coach, nutritionist, RD & TV Host, If your dog is well trained or in training, you could consider actively involving them in your yoga sessions. If not, no worries. You both can enjoy some basic movement and restorative poses.

Here are some of my suggestions for quality DOGA time. Keep in mind this is not a full routine but some pose suggestion you could enjoy. Every pose (assana) has many inner meanings. Today, we will focus on the physical benefits of yoga, and the fun you can have with your dog.

“It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.” – John Grogan

Quiet Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmāsana)

Like every yoga practice, we start with sitting. Feeling our body and connecting to our inner selves. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your dog’s heart. You’d be amazed on how synchronized you can become.
doga pose quiet lotus
Doga Quiet lotus pose

Downward - Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Śvānāsana)

Yes, this pose is probably the one your dog could teach you. Take a load off your back and strengthen your arms.
doga downward facing dog pose

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Move into a stretch that opens your body and allows you to warm up. This is a great pose to use your dog for your own benefit. If possible, have him or her climb onto your back or even just place a little of his weight on your body. It could help you enter the pose in a perfect way.
doga childs pose

Warrior One (Vīrabhadrāsana A)

The strength of this pose lies in your legs! Having your dog’s support there is always a great upgrade.
doga-warrior-one-pose

Chair Pose Preparation

Strengthen your legs before going into a full chair pose.
doga chair pose preparation

Chair (Utkaṭāsana)

This pose will help you strengthen your spin. Legs strong on the ground, arm reaching out, and your best friend there for support.

Warrior 2 (Vīrabhadrāsana B)

The main purpose of this pose is to help stretch your legs and upper body. Making space for more air to enter the lungs.
doga warrior 2 pose
doga warrior 2

Plank (Kumbhakasana)

This pose could be done with your forearms on the ground or just with your hands. If you have a strong abdomen, you could consider having your best friend help you with some extra weight..
doga plank pose

Sage Marichi's 3 (Marīchyāsana C)

Give your shoulders a good stretch and massage your abdominal muscles.

Wheel Half (Ardha Ūrdhva Dhanurāsana)

Strengthen your buttocks and arms while flexing your back. Make sure your dog does not jump on top of you this time.
doga wheel half pose

Leg Extension

This pose could be either a warm up or a restorative pose. Any way you choose, make sure your legs are always flexed, reaching toward the sky. Your dog could be a lot of help in keeping you focused on your legs and resting your neck.
doga leg extension pose

Shoulder Stand (Sālamba Sarvāṅgāsana)

The upside down poses are always good to relieve stress and typically come toward the end of your practice. Take the time to stay in this position and have you dog there to catch you when you return to the ground.
doga shoulder stand pose

Crow (Kākāsana)

For strong wrists and a strong core.Take the time to stay in this position, especially as it prepares you for a great handstand later on.
doga crow pose

Tree (Vṛkṣāsana)

This is a pose that helps you work on opening your hip joints and it is also an extra fun one to share with your dog. Small or large, trained or not, this is a fun way to practice together.
doga tree pose

Savasana- The Corpse Pose

This pose is all about letting go. Letting go of everything material and just being. For this one, you could choose to have no contact with your dog and just feel his presence. Or just slightly touch him or her and relax together.
doga savasana the corpse pose

Are You and Your Pup Healthy Enough for Doga?

Make sure you talk to your veterinarian as well as your physician to make sure you are both healthy enough for yoga. While you are able to tell the doctor when things are bothering you, your dog cannot do that. So, you have to watch for those subtle signs that he may be overdoing it. If he is not up to doga, let him sit and watch. If either one of you has any kind of physical conditions that could make exercise a problem, make sure you take it easy and stay in tune with your body. 

What Others Are Saying...

Some critics say that since yoga is a spiritual thing that having your dog practice with you is trivializing it. However, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the benefits of doga together. There is no way to know that your dog is not feeling deeply spiritual with you. No matter what you believe, nobody can say that inviting your dog into your yoga routine trivializes anything. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Get Out Your Doga Mats

At the end of each session, sit with your pup and say your favorite manta like, “I Am Grateful for This Present Moment and Everything It Offers Me.” And don’t just say it, mean it too. Let the words and the emotion enter your soul as you consider the bond you shared with your dog during this session and how glad you are that he is with you.

Don’t forget to share with us some of your favorite Doga poses and some photos of you and your furbaby too.

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