Yoga with dogs is new trend; how it works in reality

I read a story this week about a yoga class for dogs – or with dogs. They call it Doga. Apparently it’s supposed to be fun and relaxing for both you and your pup.

I wrote a column a few years ago (before Bandit) about doing Pilates on DVD with my dog and cat in the room. I’m not sure how much either of us got out of the exercise.

Paws, Claws, and Deep Dog Breaths
by Joanne Brokaw

I’m lying on my back, eyes closed, arms at my side, as the DVD directs me to relax and breathe deeply.

As a general rule, I don’t exercise. I did join a gym, once, taking advantage of a free month-long trial membership at a new facility that opened near my house.

I wanted to take a Pilates class, but when they said the group met at 6:30 a.m. my body went into total revolt. “We don’t need no stinking Pilates class,” my thighs growled. “Hey, I’m off the clock until 8:30 a.m.,” my brain shouted. My hips creaked, my back whined, and my knees protested until I had no choice but to nix the pre-dawn workout.

Unfortunately, I’ve been having some problems with my back, the result of too many hours sitting at the computer and too few hours doing any other physical activity.  

My doctor has warned me that if I don’t do something now, I’m in for some really serious problems down the road.

I made a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape.

And that’s why I’m lying on my living room floor in the middle of the afternoon, cursing my aging body and following along with a Pilates DVD.

The virtual instructor is droning softly – “Feel the breath coming into the body, feel the breath exiting the body” – when all of the sudden I feel warm dog breath on my face and open my eyes to find Scout standing over me, his nose just inches from mine. We make eye contact, and before I can react he’s slobbering all over my face, sticking his tongue in my eyes, my nose, my mouth.

I pause the DVD so I can catch my breath and Scout lies at my feet, licking my toes. I readjust myself lengthwise in the small area I have to lie down (someone really needs to clean this house) and hit the remote.

“Take a deep breath in, and raise your arms over your head for a full body stretch,” the instructor croons.

I raise my arms over my head and am shocked to feel sandpaper rubbing my armpit. Wait, it’s the cat’s tongue. I push him away, but immediately Murphy lunges at my head, digging his claws into my ponytail and entangling himself in my hair.

When I yelp, Scout jumps to my rescue, and I am caught in the middle of a cat and dog wrestling match. By the time I’ve separated the two warring pets, the DVD has moved on to the next section of exercises. I pick up as the instructor and her students are demonstrating an abdominal crunch with a twist.

I put one hand behind my head, the other arm at my side (Murphy lunges at my fingers; Scout licks my ear) and raise my upper body (Murphy jumps onto my chest; Scout jumps at Murphy). I lower my body back to the floor (Murphy is under my head; Scout is on my head) and exhale slowly (both Murphy and Scout are licking my face; good grief, that cat has bad breath).

I hit “pause” and wait, not moving. When the two are finished bathing my face and each other in animal spit, Scout stretches out next to me and sighs deeply. Murphy quietly curls up against my neck.

I hit “play” and resume my exercises, trying not to jostle my companions. I skip the crunches, rationalizing that the five minutes I spent battling the animals has to count for something. I finish the workout and turn off the DVD player.

I close my eyes and lie still. While the exercises leave me feeling surprisingly energized, the warm dog against my side and the cat purring softly in my ear envelope me in peace. I softly breathe in, softly breathe out.

You know, this exercising isn’t so bad after all.

(c) 2007 Joanne Brokaw/Wonder Dog Communications All rights reserved

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