Doga: Has Yoga Gone To The Dogs?

Working out with your pet is nothing new. I love to run with my two Great Danes, but I've never thought about taking them to the gym with me. However, Doga (yoga with your dog) takes Downward Facing Dog to a whole new level.

January 6, 2016
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Working out with your pet is nothing new. I love to run with my two Great Danes, but I’ve never thought about taking them to the yoga studio. However, that’s exactly what is going on in some studios across the country. Doga (yoga with your dog) takes Downward Facing Dog to a whole new level and is supposed to be one of the top trending workouts for 2016.

Doga was accidentally created by New York yoga instructor Suzi Teitelman, who had a puppy that refused to leave her mat. Since she didn’t want to give him the boot, or leave him at home, she slowly started incorporating her pup into her yoga routine and out came Doga – Yoga Doggie Style.

With the trend of fashionable pocket pets thanks to famous socialites like Paris Hilton, it’s no wonder Doga caught on so quickly. Now, believe it or not, Doga is being taught all over the world and even made ABC’s 4 Workouts to Watch Out For in 2016.

How It Works

Doga is considered to be gentle yoga, with a lot of stretching, massage, and meditation. Certified Doga instructors lead pet lovers through a variety of familiar yoga poses that use their dogs as props and even weights.

I could imagine that holding a wiggling pup in a balance pose would prove to be a lot more challenging than doing it solo. Doga also may incorporate more upper body strength, since many of the moves require you hold your furry friend throughout the pose. While it may seem like a good workout for the human, Doga’s big focus is on reducing stress for both the human and the canine.

Doga is also supposed to be quite a bonding experience. Research shows sustained eye contact between a dog and its owner boosts endorphins. Holding a long gaze with your hound reportedly releases beta-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine, neurochemicals associated with positive feelings and bonding. This is a healthy perk for both parties, as many of the poses purposefully have you face to face with your friend.

Because Doga also requires a certain level of doggie obedience, it could do double duty as dog training time too.

Pros And Cons

The mere fact that you can do one more thing with your pet (outside of the dog park or taking an ordinary walk) is a pro in of itself. Pet lovers are always looking for more things to do with Fido. People also love showing off their pets, so it’s another excuse to let your four-legged friend tag along.

If your dog has anxiety issues, Doga could be a method of reducing stress and building trust. Doga would also be a good way to socialize your pet in a low-key environment, which is especially important for nervous or skittish dogs.

Doga gets a few more fitness points because having your dog there could distract you enough to hold poses a little longer. Instead of focusing on your burning thighs while holding Warrior 2, you can concentrate on holding your pooch still and looking into his or her cute little eyes. However, you can have those points quickly taken away if the little mongrel distracts you to the point of missing a pose altogether.

An obvious obstacle for me is that my dogs are so big they would each need their own yoga mat. And, each one of them weighs more than I do, so I won’t be picking them up while doing any warrior poses.

Marley, my Mantle Great Dane, is less than graceful, so I am pretty sure he’d topple me over after two seconds of any balance pose if he had anything to do with it. My Fawn (Miller), on the other hand, is much more graceful and would likely be a better suited Doga partner for me. But I have a feeling he’d want to take a nap after the first 10 minutes of class.

That brings me to the most obvious con for Doga: It requires a cooperative sidekick, so it’s not for everyone. Since Marley’s favorite pastime is sitting on my lap like a Shih Tzu, I’ve never been successful doing any floor exercises without him eventually sitting on top of me and bringing me to the floor. If it were Doggie MMA, we’d crush it because Marley already has the Full Mount and Half Nelson moves down pat.

Another issue for my boys and me is we’d take up a lot more room than if I had a Tea Cup Poodle. While Doga’s creator says you can do yoga with any size dog, I would be nervous about em”barking” on this new workout simply because I’d probably feel like the big pink elephant in the middle of the room. If we make a mistake, everyone will know about it because my dogs don’t do anything quietly.

Since I’m already horrible at yoga and about as flexible as a two by four, the thought of adding a dog to the mix is horrifying for me. Simply hiding in the back corner hoping no one sees me is not going to work.

None of this is an issue where I live because there are no Doga classes that I know of in our area. Unless I get the Doga DVD, I can’t imagine I’ll even get to try it to give you a real Doga review.

Fit Or Flop

This is not one of those one-size-fits-all situations. Since Doga requires you have a dog to begin with, this workout would obviously be a Flop for sure if you are dogless. Then you must have a cooperative pup that will not only behave but also complement your fitness goals.

As long as you aren’t doing Doga for series fitness gains, I would say Doga is a Fit for additional activity–and a great social activity for you and you pet. However, if you really want to get in a good workout, you probably need to leave the dog at home.

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