If you are a Yogi yourself then you know the benefits of this ancient practice. They are not only physical but are mental and spiritual as well. Pets and yoga are a wonderful combination that will take you to another level of connection with a fellow-creature that you love.
I know this because it happened to me!
Case Study of Triple-A Personality
Please stay with me for a moment as I explain how I was drawn to yoga in the first place and how it ties in with pets.
I would like you to know that I was, and still am, a triple A-type personality. I was hoping, as I got older, that I would mellow out maybe, but this is not the case. Adding to my intensity, when my mother was dying a few years ago, I was her caregiver and I was literally dying with her. I was a knot of anxiety.
I had tried yoga a few times in the past but it never really clicked with me. The stress of mom slowly spiraling downward made me desperate to find a place where I could find some inner peace, so I found a nearby yoga class and started to go there every day. The effect was life-changing for me. Thus, I continue to practice every day and I have become a teacher.
One day, as I was practicing at home, my little dog came over and sat quietly on the mat with me. She had never done this before and I had never read anything about a dog doing yoga with you. It hit me then that she must have been sensing my peacefulness and was just drawn to come and sit with me.
The Benefits of Yoga For You and Your Pet
Animals are telepathic. From my years of experience working with them, I am absolutely convinced of this. I believe that is why my little dog came to me on my mat when I was in a peaceful state of mind that day. She was drawn to my energy and came to share in it. We were bonding!
The benefits of yoga, in my opinion, go beyond the physical and spiritual. Over time, the inner peace and calmness one feels during practice can radiate out to others around us, including dogs, cats and all animals for that matter.
Our pets pick up on our moods, good or bad. I believe that, if we just take some time during our yoga practice to share this calmness with our pet, we will benefit each other by a subtle exchange of energy flowing back and forth between us to the benefit of both.
If you have a pet that tends to be a little more highly strung, this could be a great way to help calm those tendencies. Or, say you have a senior animal who has a little arthritis. Just being on the mat next to you, in a calm state of mind, you could gently place your warm hands on his aching areas and mentally project your calm energy into his body, willing him to heal and feel better. Your intention is everything! Being that your pet is telepathic, he will pick up on this and absorb what you give him. I absolutely believe this. I have seen it work.
How to Incorporate Your Pet in Your Practice
You don’t need to be an expert!
Patience has to be your constant companion when inviting your furbaby to practice yoga with you. As with any training, the introduction has to be short, initially. Gradually, over time, he will come to look forward to lying next to you on the mat as you practice. Remember, your cat or dog is not actually doing the poses but is next to you, absorbing and exchanging your energy.
Eventually, when your pet has come to understand what it means to be on the mat with you and is fully compliant and relaxed, you could add a few little stretches or a massage, but, essentially, you are just touching each other gently while you yourself hold a pose that is comfortable to you. You have to be relaxed in that pose so that your friend can pick up on this.
To begin, I would suggest that you simply have the dog or cat in the room with you when you are doing your practice. Both species are naturally curious creatures and they crave your attention. Without you doing anything other than your yoga, you may find him watching you and making eye contact. Look at him and smile and with a soothing tone, call his name. Mentally invite him over. He may start to walk over to you and sit close by. Success!
The important thing is to never force your pet to come over and sit with you. He wants to be with you anyway so eventually he will come over. If he doesn’t, it might happen another time. It may even take a few times before he will even come near you, but trust me, he is curious as to what you are doing.
Once he is close to you, slowly move into a pose that you are very comfortable to hold for a few minutes. A simple cross-legged pose, child’s pose or just lying in Shavasana on your back. Gently extend your hands out to your pet and place them on his body lightly. He may start to lie down or remain seated. Just let him do what he wants. Cats will often just sit for a while observing you and deciding what to do, then gently pad over and rub against you or lie next to you.
You are now practicing yoga with your pet!
Hold that pose while touching your friend as long as he tolerates it. Close your eyes. Continue with your deep, yogic breathing. It really is as easy as this! Don’t look for complexity. This is a simple but deep connection between the two of you.
After a few minutes, he may walk away or stay there. Continue with your practice and, as you end it, sit in your final pose and touch him again if he is still there. Try to let your mind be free and clear of thoughts such as what you need to do later. Imagine the two of you as one spiritual entity. Two souls, bonded through yoga and love, together in the moment. Together for eternity.
As you progress, you can extend the time you practice yoga with your cat or dog. The practice of Yin Yoga, if you haven’t already tried it, is holding poses for about a minute to five minutes or even longer. This could be a great way for you to alternate with the more active Yang yoga and to include your pet in these poses that are held for much longer. They seem to respond well to this type of practice as it involves minimum movement. It would be a good balance for your own practice as well.
Where to Practice Together
Apart from practicing yoga with your pet in your own home, you may be wondering how to find a place where you can connect with other kindred spirits to enjoy this activity. Well, if you know someone who is already doing this, you have your opening right there. However, the internet is our go-to tool now and you may find some classes near you online. Community Facebook groups are a good resource too. Sometimes the Humane Society or other animal rescue places will know of classes or can at least point you in the right direction.
Don’t be dismayed if there are no classes near you. Simply contact your local yoga studio and find out if any of the instructors offer this type of class. This is really growing in popularity so they may be interested in starting a class based on your inquiry. Chances are you will not be the only one who has asked!
Another idea would be to gather together a few of your friends and their dogs and meet at someone’s home or outdoors in a safe place with a teacher or experienced yoga practitioner and put it together yourself.
A super easy solution is just to go online and find free yoga classes, of which there are tons, lay your mat down either alone or with others, and take it from there yourself.
If you would like to practice with your cat, it probably works better with just the two of you in the cat’s familiar space. I would not recommend combining dogs and cats together in yoga practice (unless they are already buddies and comfortable with each other).
Who knows but you could generate so much interest that people will be approaching you to help them form classes! Spread the love!
I hope with all my heart that my little article here has at least sown the seed in your mind of including your pet in your yoga practice.
We are all living, breathing, vital creatures and we love our companion animals so much. It is my belief that one of the great benefits of Yoga is that it gives one the opportunity to create a deep, mindful, healing and positive exchange between ourselves and those who love us unconditionally. I encourage you to embrace this opportunity.
I am a certified yoga teacher and I practice yoga with my husband when we house and petsit. We have had cats and dogs come up and join us on the mat and it is always a wonderful experience.
You can do this, too!
I would love to hear if you have practiced yoga with your dog or cat or are hoping to do so or if you have questions for me on this subject. Being new to the area, I am researching locations on the Riviera Maya and Cozumel Island that offer this type of yoga practice. Do you know of anywhere that does? If you do, could you share that link in the comments section below? I would love to write an article about it here.
Wishing you peace, love, and happy pets!