Doga = yoga + dogs… a fad started in New York years ago. It stems from yoga and/or dog fans wanting to do yoga combined exercise in the park. Imagine shots of people holding small fluffy dogs above their heads in warrior pose, or people balancing on one leg holding dogs in amusing poses… effective? Well at least it was social, dogs were bonding with their owners and everyone was out getting fresh air.

I recently came across a book I’ve had for ages, called Doga, written jointly by a human yoga teacher and dog trainer, tongue in cheek, but cute e.g. warrior pose (three leg balance stand), standing paw shake (dancers pose) savasana (deep relaxation, roll over and play dead). Which are all good for core strength, balance, agility, human/dog bond.

For younger students, focus, play and coordination are some of the many benefits of Doga.

For older students, Doga counteracts the effects of ageing by improved balance, agility, flexibility, strength, focus and a sense of achievement (you can teach an old dog new tricks… and they love the stimulation).

Let’s not forget social interaction: immobility, loneliness and neglect are killers for any of us…. nursing home neglect sitting in a chair all day, dogs in lonely backyards.

I was asked to teach a Doga class for celebrities at Bondi Beach a few years ago… bit silly, really, quite enjoyable but chaotic to do in a public place on a hot day, with dogs and owners not paying attention, and Bondi locals attracted by a film crew and wanting to join in… not to mention some odd expectations e.g. one of the organisers showed me a (photoshopped) picture of a french bulldog sitting in lotus (cross legged) and asked if we would be doing that. She was so disappointed when i said it’s not actually possible with dogs anatomy.

I am pleased to say that we cover most Doga stretches in our animal physio sessions. We do spinal twists, rotations, balance on 2 or 3 legs, modified handstands (wheelbarrows) and, best of all, corpse pose (relaxation). I suspect it is more challenging for the owners to learn these “new tricks” and ways of interacting. Before COVID we offered Doga (stretch, massage and giggle) classes and hope to get them started again soon.