I have done the odd downward dog (pardon the pun), bent myself back into a cobra and even attempted some very tenuous head stands over the years, but I can confidently say that I’ve never done yoga with a dog.
Last week, Doga (Doggy Yoga) zenn-ed its way into town at a pop up event in Old Street Underground Station. Organised by Eventbrite and hosted by Mahny Djahanguiri- Europe’s first Doga Instructor and founder of DogaMahny, naturally George and I jumped at the chance to give it a try.
I don’t know about you, but Yoga is normally something I do to relax- to forget about rude shop staff, London prices and crowded trains – and have an hour of total peace and quiet. So I didn’t know what to except from Doga – would the dogs relax? Would it turn into an all-out playfest? Would I leave feeling more stressed than when I arrived?
Starting off with a demo from the pros – Mahny and her dog Robbie showed us how it’s done. Already convinced that George would not reach a state of inner peace, and would most likely create outer mayhem, I was relieved when she then eased us in and explained how things would work.
“Don’t worry if the dogs pee everywhere, that’s part it.” Mahny got the practicalities out of the way first. And after a bit of accidental peeing, bum sniffing and the odd bark, we got the dogs to settle down on the mats with us.
Mahny explained that our dog’s nervous system is connected to ours. That might seem a bit crazy at first, but I think most dog owners can relate to the fact that our dogs do pick up on our feelings and tap into our emotional state – when we feel stressed and panicked, so do they.
“It’s all about letting go and just focussing on your breathing,” Mahny told us. Hard to do when your dog is trying to retrieve some treats from another owner’s handbag, three metres away. We persevered none the less.
Mahny took us through some basic poses, which admittedly were easier for people with small dogs (a Staffy and a Whippet proved a bit harder to lift), but there was options for dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Eventually when George gave up on the treats and resigned himself to being a ‘dogi’, he actually started to calm down and get into the practice, much to my surprise.
As we neared the end of class, I’m pleased to say that George actually relaxed so much that he fell asleep on my chest. Aahhhhhhh. Sadly our state of zen didn’t last long before we were back to face licking and treat hunting – but hey you’ve got to take the small victories!
Find out more about Doga and Mahny’s classes at dogamahny.co.uk