Who let the dogs in the yoga class?

2011-08-01 11:06

New York – When yoga goes to the dogs, they call it “doga”.

And while doga may not measure up, fitness-wise, to a game of fetch or a run on the beach, experts say practising yoga with your pet can soothe the not-so-savage beasts of both person and pooch.

“I consider it partner yoga,” said Suzi Teitelman, a Florida-based instructor who has been teaching doga to man, woman and beast since 2002.

“It’s my lifelong passion.”

Teitelman stumbled upon doga because her dog liked to lie under her while she practised.

“When you feel good, they feel good,” she said. “They want to be around your goodness.”

Classes, DVDs and a training manual followed.

Teitelman said she’s trained more than 100 people around the world in doga, some from as far away as China and Japan.

Disco yoga, kid yoga, beach yoga, spin yoga and yogalites are but a few of the trendy hybrids saluting the sun at fitness centres these days, all takeoffs on the 5 000-year-old practice that coordinates movement and breath.

But Teitelman insists she teaches a traditional yoga class, even if the downward facing dog is flesh and blood.

“We chant together to feel the vibrations, then we start moving into twists and turns,” she said.

Traditional poses such as warriors, triangles and backbends follow, possibly enhanced by a little dog balanced at the belly or waist.

“The person takes dog deeper into a stretch, and the dog takes the person deeper,” she said.

“If you have a dog on your arm in a standing posture it helps balance and strength.”

Teitelman believes the rewards of yoga accrue to human and animal alike.

“You’re moving their body. They’re getting touched, they’re getting love,” she explained, “and everybody needs to be hanging upside down.”

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