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DOGA = Dog + Yoga.

It does sound a bit over the top, but participants cannot stop raving about DOGA, the practice of yoga with a pet dog. Not only is it a wonderful bonding experience, but it also has health benefits for the dog and owner. Owners find sharing the same uninterrupted energy with their dogs to be very fulfilling and claim that their pets work out all of their anxieties, and leave class much more calm, peaceful, and happy.

During class, dogs participate in some gentle poses, but it is mostly focused on spending quality time cuddling and mentally communicating. Doga typically includes a massage, meditation, and concludes with a “shavasana” or resting pose. Brenda Bryan, a registered yoga instructor and author of Barking Buddha, says that being present with your pet is what it is all about. She goes on to say that Dogs are natural healers, so it is wonderful to include them in this healing practice.

Some feel that while there is nothing wrong with doing yoga with your dog if it’s having fun, this new craze is more of an attempt by owners to humanize their pets. They feel that spending quality time and making a physical connection doing any other activity would be just as positive an experience.

Proponents of Doga disagree. They explain that the calming and spiritual element of the practice is what differentiates it from other physical activities. As long as the poses feel natural and the animal isn’t forced, stretching a dog’s legs and putting them in certain positions provides a completely different workout and type of experience.

Doga is practiced in health clubs, shelters, and even in trendy hotels. And it is not just a United States phenomenon, as it has caught on in the UK, Australia, and Japan. While the concept may appear a bit strange at first, there are universally accepted benefits for both dog and owner alike.