Tracing the roots of Puppy Yoga
In the ever-growing quest for wellness, humans have developed many techniques and a huge vocabulary alluding to yoga, meditation, mental peace, etc. Interestingly, experiencing dopamine-release, serotonin-boost, calmness, mindfulness, and emotional balance nicely intersects with our domestication of dogs. While it might not have been present in our lexicon since the ancient times of yoga, the feeling has been universal. Yoga gave us the power to deal with the world – through mental and physical balance, and dogs became pets that brought emotional balance and love to countless human lives.
Now, imagine these two experiences coming together!
In an innovative stroke of fortune, it has come true now. The smartly coined word, Doga – A sublime portmanteau of ‘dog’ and ‘yoga’ – does precisely two things – Dogs and Yoga. Doga or puppy yoga effortlessly brings high-entropy puppies and calm, serene yoga together, making workouts infinitely better. A happy brigade of pooches runs about and frolics around a group of yoga enthusiasts stretching on yoga mats. And, of course, you are allowed to break that pose if the pup is just too cute to be ignored. In this enchanting journey through the history of puppy yoga, we’ll venture back to the time when the practice of yoga first realized its potential to be ‘pawsitively’ delightful.
Pups on The Scene
Suzi Teitelman, an American actress from Jacksonville, created the concept of Doga around 2002. That makes Coali, her cocker spaniel, an equal partner in the invention of Doga. She states, “The person takes the dog deeper into a stretch, and the dog takes the person deeper”.
Suzi imagined Doga as a way for both doggy and yogi to stretch, relax, and strengthen themselves. Dogs cannot contort themselves into yogic poses quite as well as humans, but some stretching and dog-friendly poses can be beneficial to them.
But way before Doga came to be, there were moments in history hinting towards the exciting union of spirituality and meditation and our canine companions. In India, where yoga was born, yogis commonly meditated or practiced yoga around animals, particularly cows and dogs. Their peaceful, loyal nature enhanced the meditative experience.
One captivating tale reflecting the essence of puppy yoga finds its roots in the pages of the Mahabharata, a venerable Indian epic. It is the heartwarming story of Yudhishthira and his unwavering canine companion. As Yudhishthira embarked on a profound spiritual quest, he found solace in the company of a stray dog who proved to be an enduring and loyal presence. Despite facing numerous challenges along the way, Yudhishthira remained loyal to his four-legged friend. In a remarkable twist, the humble dog later revealed its divine nature. Cementing the dog’s position as a symbol of loyalty, this story shows the profound potential for transformation through love and focus — values intrinsic to both yoga and the relationship between humans and dogs.
Recent Pawprints on History
Soon after Suzi introduced this interesting concept to her yoga classes, news outlets took an interest. From there, it wasn’t long before Doga became common in the US. In 2003, Jennifer Brilliant and William Berloni released their book ‘Doga: Yoga for Dogs’, giving Doga more legitimacy. The book calls dogs ‘Natural Yogis’.
As Doga gained popularity in the US, the pet shop Pet Pavilion of London brought this concept to the UK. They offered to let pet parents hold their pups while doing yoga poses. Later, Mahny Djahanguiri popularised Doga in the UK. She is a Swiss-born British national and has been a yoga teacher since 1999. She explains Doga as a type of yoga where perfection in the yogic poses is secondary since the heart-warming company of dogs offers us much-needed mental and emotional balance. By 2015, Mahny Djahanguiri had published a book, ‘Doga: Yoga for you and your dog’.
In the UK, puppy yoga featured on the shows The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea. Of course, this was the biggest fame it had received until recently. When influencers and various content creators on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube shorts garnered much attention with their uber-adorable puppy yoga posts, Doga found more takers and a steady supply of organizers too.
Why Yoga with Dogs?
Puppy yoga is not just about cuteness; there’s science behind the smiles. Studies have shown that the presence of dogs can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. The scientific backing behind this delightful practice is that the serotonin that puppy interactions release, makes the yoga session a perfect stress reliever, too.
Additionally, the dogs are sometimes rescues or local shelter dogs looking for a forever home. Yes, sometimes, you can adopt these pups. When you can’t, you are still helping them. Pet dogs need a lot of socialisation training to be able to stay with their humans. At the yoga studio, sniffing hundreds of different smells and interacting with all the humans helps them develop sociable and sharp personalities.
Humans and dogs have an ancient sacred bond. That they’ve come to our rescue at a time when global stress levels have peaked, and wellness activities have become essential is no surprise. It is a celebration of the simple, joyous moments with our furry friends. Reconnect with your kind self and generously offer belly rubs. Find yourself a yoga mat and a puppy yoga class in London, and start your journey today!