3 Health Benefits of Doga
You Should Know About
The health benefits of practicing yoga are widely documented. There’s also plenty of evidence to suggest that interacting with dogs can improve physical and mental health. Mix the two together, and you have a super healthy and fun hobby!
Dog yoga could be just what you and your pup need. Here are some of the health benefits of doga you should know about.
What is Doga?
The word “doga” is a combination of “dog” and “yoga”. Dog yoga! Doga doesn’t just involve dogs, though. It needs humans to take part too.
Just like you would do yoga to calm down or stretch, you would do doga for the same reasons. Only your dog would be involved too. There are two different ways your dog can take part:
- Actively taking part in the yoga poses.
- Milling around the class while the humans do yoga poses.
Technically, true doga is when you and your dog do yoga together, both actively holding poses and working in conjunction with each other.
There’s a way this can be done with any kind of dog, from Chihuahuas to Great Pyrenees! The great thing about doing yoga with your dog is that it offers similar health benefits to them that it does to us, and it’s invaluable bonding time.
For those who may find that difficult but still want their dog to be involved, you can find yoga studios who allow dogs to join their owners in class. The dogs play gently, or sit patiently by their owners and wait for them to finish.
Although this technically isn’t real doga, it still has some great benefits. Just the presence of dogs has been proven to reduce stress, so bringing your dog along to yoga can double the stress-relieving effects.
Whatever your preference, make sure you choose a yoga studio that promotes good handling, gentleness, love, and that you (and your dog) feel comfortable at.
4 Reasons You Should Try Yoga with Your Dog
Wondering if it would be worth trying to get your dog into those pretzel-shaped yoga poses? Here are 4 human-related health benefits of doga that might help you make a decision.
1) Helps with Depression and Anxiety-Related Disorders
Your breathing needs to be right to get the full beneficial effect of doga. Concentrating on slowing down and regulating your breathing is an effective way of reducing symptoms related to anxiety and depression.
Don’t think yoga is just a physical thing! Yogic breathing causes chemical changes in the brain, which lower stress hormones and increase happy hormones.
The presence of your dog is effective for reducing anxiety even more. This is especially true for those who suffer from social anxiety. A familiar furry face next to you can bring an invaluable sense of comfort.
2) Relieves Lower Back Pain
More often than we realize, lower back pain is caused by tight muscles. We’re not saying that doga is a miracle cure, but when done right it can certainly help to relieve pain and inflammation.
Doga helps to strengthen the muscles in the back and core. It’s not as effective or as fast as a gym workout, but it is gentle and has little chance of injury.
Another thing you’ll do a lot in doga is stretching. This is like the warming up part of the gym workout, and it helps to reduce tension in muscles and loosen them up comfortably. Just loosening muscles can significantly relieve back pain.
3) Improves Blood Circulation
One of the biggest reasons for circulation problems is lack of movement. If you spend your days behind a laptop, or even doing paperwork at a desk, you’re moving a lot less than humans are meant to.
Just the act of stretching your muscles and holding poses can help improve blood flow. Certain poses, like downward facing dog, get your heart above your head, which allows gravity to do the hard work and bring your blood back to the heart effectively.
4) Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion
If you’ve looked into yoga before, no doubt you’ve seen some of the pretzel-like poses you can get into! Flexibility is a natural side effect of practicing yoga, but it requires time and consistency.
If you can’t do those leg-above-head poses, it’s most likely because your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are too tight. The tighter you are, the less range of motion you’ll have!
The more you practice yoga (or doga), the more flexible you will become. You’ll find that it becomes easier to stretch further. This flexibility also carries over into daily life! You may find that everyday tasks like reaching for things and doing housework become easier.
3 Benefits of Doga for your Dog
1) Improve Behavioral Issues with Your Dog
There could be a number of reasons behind behavioral issues. Some of the common ones include separation anxiety and being in pain, both of which can be helped by regular doga sessions.
If your pup freaks out every time you leave the house, taking them along to your doga class may help to avoid that extreme anxiety. In time, the benefits of doga may also reduce your dog’s stress levels and help to manage that anxiety even when you do have to leave them behind.
Stretching and improving flexibility can help to ease pain, which could improve your dog’s mood. Just an elevated mood can help ease behavioral problems dramatically.
2) Soothes Any Pain They May Have
Doing yoga with your dog, as opposed to when they simply observe, can help to stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons and ease tension in your dog’s body.
Tight muscles can change your dog’s whole gait. It’s easy for joints to go out of alignment. The more their walking form changes, the more likely they are to be in pain, as their muscles and joints end up moving differently to normal.
Doga can help to ease tightness and bring your dog’s joints back into alignment. When everything is aligned, there’s far less chance of being in pain thanks to improper gait or misaligned muscles and joints.
3) Improve Muscle Mass and Joint Health
As we mentioned, easing muscle tension can bring the joints back into alignment, reducing the chance of injury and pain. But doga can also help your dog (especially seniors) gain a wider range of motion and improve their flexibility, which also protects joints.
Although it’s light exercise, yoga still works the muscles. If your dog is quite active, it’s likely to be of more use as a recuperative activity. But if your dog could do with more exercise, dog yoga is a great place to start.
Getting those muscles moving will not only improve circulation and flexibility, but it also builds muscle mass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Dog Yoga Be Bad for Your Dog?
If you’re careful with your dog while doing yoga poses, there should be no hazards for the pup. Yoga is generally slow-paced and relaxed, so there’s little chance of it getting out of hand!
Just remember to pay attention to your dog while you’re busy. Never force your dog into a pose. They can’t tell us when they’re tired of it, so keep an eye on how they’re doing and if they get bored or tired of it, let them wander free for a while.
If your dog is hyperactive or aggressive, it may not be a good idea to take them into a class with you. They may react badly to other dogs and humans, so take this into consideration before going.
Where to Sign Up for Doga Classes
Although doga has been around since 2003, there aren’t a ton of doga classes around. The easiest way to find them is to do a Google search in your area.
If you can’t find classes near you, you can always do doga from home using YouTube! All you need is a yoga mat (or two), your pup, and a laptop or tablet. This may be a good way to begin, until you and your dog are confident you can handle the poses.
What Materials Do I Need to Start Practicing Yoga with My Dog?
All you really need to begin a yoga practice with your dog is a yoga mat (and a dog, of course). If you’d prefer to begin learning at home, you don’t even need fancy yoga clothes – your pyjamas will do!
A laptop or device you can watch videos on, or a yoga smartphone app will be necessary if you’re doing it from home.
If you’re attending a doga or yoga class with your dog, it’s possible that there may be a dress code, so you might need to invest in yoga clothes.