Pet Yoga Benefits Pet and Partner

Pet Yoga Benefits Pet and Partner

By Michael G. Fry 

Animals can teach us a lot about movement and stillness and thus about yoga and life. Have you ever witnessed your pet meditating? Ignoring your temper tantrums and demands? How about stretching? Dogs often take downward dog, cats utilize cat pose, cobras rise up to cobra pose, They already know how to move their bodies and adjust and navigate the environment they are in. Even when that environment is completely controlled by their  human partners. We humans, despite all of our technological advances and creature comforts, don’t always understand how to care for our bodies.

Yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind. It’s been proven to have numerous health benefits received through its stretching components, breathing exercises, meditation practices and strength exercises.  As the ancients have known for millennia, 21st century  tests have demonstrated how  yoga also helps with depression, addiction, pain, fear,  stress and much more.  But have you ever considered doing yoga with your pet?  That’s right, yogis and their pets are practicing together and the range of pets participating is quite diverse. Non-human yogis include but are not limited to dogs, cats, snakes, birds, goats, horses, rabbits, rats and even turtles. More and more pets are getting intentionally into the flow instead of being perceived as interrupting the flow.

As yoga itself gains popularity around the globe, Pet Yoga is elevating its optics right along with it.  Dogs even have their own brand of PY called “Doga” and shelters have started using yoga at adoption events. Some of the benefits of Dog-Yoga are bonding, stretching, increased focus, stress relief and injury prevention. Just as with humans, dogs benefit greatly from stretching. The stretches help improve flexibility and range of motion in the joints. Common benefits include increased muscle tone and strength, as well as flexibility.  And let us not forget that yoga borrows a few poses from our canine counterparts including Down Dog and Upward Facing Dog.

Pet yoga is even being seen as a ‘reason’ to adopt a cat or a dog by those without pets and as a reason for current ‘pet partners’ (humans) to begin a yoga practice of their own.  Either way, both pet and partner benefit from mindful workout poses in tandem with the peace and familiar comfort of beloved animals.

When I began my practice over a decade ago it was ‘interrupted’ by my two cats but soon I began to look forward to their ‘yoga-cuddles’ and even started to invite them with ‘kissing noises’ and pats on the mat.  Currently, I can look forward, each morning, to my Great Dane puppy, Skye, joining my early morning yoga practice.  While he is still more jokester than yogi, judging by my smiles and his wagging tail, we both are receiving the benefits of our practice.