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Lassie Come Om

First, let's get the silliness out of the way: Do dogs in yoga class do downward-facing dog? How about up dog? And do they have to bring their own mats?

When I decided to blog on this video about a yoga class for dogs and their companions that's held twice yearly at the Pure Prana Yoga Studio in Old Town Alexandria, I was thinking I'd write something about the potential health benefits -- and any downsides -- of doing yoga with your pooch.

But the video says it all. Who knows how antsy any of these dogs are outside the yoga studio? But by the end of their "Dogi & Me" class, they are all utterly relaxed, many of them asleep, resting peacefully by -- or on -- their human pals. As for the humans, they, too, appear to have achieved a happy state of calm.

I've been in yoga classes in which a competitive tone pervaded the studio so fully that it kept me, at least, from reaching that quiet, contemplative place I count on yoga to help me find. You'll note a striking lack of one-upmanship among the dogs and the people in the video.

I also know what it's like to try doing yoga at home with a puppy underfoot. Unless you directly engage a dog in your practice, incorporating him into your poses as they do in this class, he'll just distract you -- and possibly get you (and him) hurt. Let's just say I know what it's like to have my nose licked when I'm trying to hold a handstand.

Dog yoga -- or "doga" -- isn't brand new; the first such classes seem to have appeared around two years ago. (Should you want to try this at home, there's lots of dog-yoga instruction on the Web.)

Doga blends what's best about dogs -- the way they live in the moment and find joy in small things -- with what's best about yoga -- quiet, focused time set aside from the rest of your busy day, devoted to getting in touch with your innermost being and helping you share that spirit with those around you.

Jessica Silverman, who teaches the dog yoga class at Pure Prana, is matter-of-fact about bringing dogs to the studio. Dogs don't need yoga, she says. "Dogs are yoga. They're there. They're present."

Humans, she concludes, are the ones who need yoga. And if having a dog at your side when you take tree pose or triangle makes your practice more pleasant, then why not?

Still not sure whether doing yoga with your dog will make a calming experience hectic or strengthen the connection between you and your favorite Fido? Watch the video below to hear from "Dogi & Me" participants at Pure Prana Yoga Studio:

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  June 17, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Yoga  
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They all look happy.
I wonder what Yoga for Cats - Yogato? would be like?

Posted by: RedBird27 | June 17, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

What a bizarre article.

Next week, will you talk about ballroom dancing with a tomato plant?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | June 17, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

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