You're indisputably normal if work life has you--how shall we say it--more stressed and irritated than a T-Rex with an itch on its back. With pretty much everyone trying to cope and free minutes increasingly precious, Yoga is by far one of the favorite forms of exercises employees and leaders go to. But don't think traditional approaches have to be your only choices. Instructor Mahny Djahanguiri, founder of Dogmahny, is helping to pioneer and normalize Doga, a form of Yoga that brings your dog into your practice.
As described on the Dogmahny website, Doga is based on traditional Hatha Yoga. The difference is that, as you work through your poses, you also help your pooch relax with you through gentle massage or acupressure. The idea is to "work on the natural symbiotic relationship that already exists between you and your dog" and, through mutual manipulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, to reduce the stress that you and your pet can reflect back and forth. The practice also is supposed to help your dog get more comfortable around other dogs. Any breed or size dog can participate.
Importantly, you don't force your dog into anything they don't want to do. If they want to roam around the room, that's fine. You bring the pup into the practice as you can, and if they interrupt your pose, you just take it as a reminder that you don't have to be perfect or too strict with yourself. Just have fun!
The overall response to Doga has been quite positive. The practice even had a humorous but successful audition on Britain's Got Talent, as you can see below:
Grab the leash for a second
Even though Doga might reduce stress for you and your dog, there are a few criticisms, as pointed out in the comments on the Time Out London's Facebook page. Some individuals assert that Yoga is meant to be highly disciplined, and that Doga thus might defeat the original intent of the ancient physical art.
Others note that having the dog involved could throw off concentration, form or both. For example, if you're holding Fido out in front of you in warrior or crescent pose, it's the equivalent of hefting a 5 to 15 pound dumbbell, which requires sufficient arm and shoulder strength some Yoga lovers might not have yet. What's more, a dog probably isn't going to stay completely still like a dumbbell, either. You have to be able to control your pet despite this.
With these criticisms in mind, the key really is to understand when to bring in your dog and when to leave them be. The goals in Doga are slightly different than they are with regular Yoga, so it might be best merely to add Doga into your broader routine, rather than having no dog-free sessions. Some poses might not be appropriate or safe, depending on your strength level and the dog you have, so you have to know your limitations. It's perfectly acceptable to perfect basic poses alone until your confident, and to bring in your pet as you progress. Listen to your body, respect your pet and accept that you might have to adjust on the fly depending on the day. If you're not sure what to do, pick up a copy of Doga: Yoga for You and Your Dog. Better yet, ask a certified Doga instructor or book a formal session. Classes are popping up around the country and world, so simply do a quick Google search to find the one nearest you.
You need to exercise and relax. So does your dog. Since variety is the spice of life, why not add Doga to your usual walks or treks to the park? At the very least, you'll get out of your comfort zone a bit. That's something that can benefit you both in and out of the office.