Enter stage left. Meet Gallatin.
As a relatively new dog-owner, I will start off by telling you that my dog is not your ordinary yellow lab. Did you nod your head or smile just then? The past two years in the "dog-world" has made me very aware that I am part of a much larger group of people who have wacky, wild, loveable and wonky canine friends! Gallatin is a two-year-old, cute, cuddly, "bull in a china shop".
I would say getting through a yoga routine with your dog in the same room could be the ultimate test of patience. If your dog is chill, then maybe it's not such a struggle. But if your dog is anything like mine, you are being crawled on, over, under, licked in the face and wacked with a tail. Ninety-five pounds of love can certainly be hazardous in the yoga room.
Yoga is about self-adjustment, inner peace and happiness. Incorporating your pets into your practice can be a win-win situation as long as we have no expectations and a good attitude. You don't have to always practice with your dog, but when you do, offer some adjustments so he/she can be included.
Most dogs are very social animals. They like to be around people and get to know us, especially when we are at their level. Yoga often involves bending over and lowering ourselves to the ground...right at our dogs level! Now we're essential eye-to-eye. This is exciting for our pup, and often they associate it with playing. The problem is, dogs don't really know the difference between you playing and you doing yoga. It all looks the same to them!
My dog (like most) is alone for a majority of the day while I work, Monday through Friday. So, when I get home and want to do yoga, I feel bad not including him. Often times, if he's tired enough, he will eventually settle down and not waddle into my space. Though, if I'm lucky enough to have my dog lay down while I'm practicing yoga, it's usually perpendicular on top of my mat!
Though every dog is different, here are some ways to include your canine friend into your yoga practice with ease.
1. Use a baby-gate or dog-gate to block
I think this can be a total win-win situation. Hopefully your dog doesn't bark behind the gate, but separating him from you while still allowing him to see you could work miracles. Yoga can happen with ease and peace, and your dog gets to keep his eye on you, which in most cases would keep him calm and cool.
2. Flow around your pup
If separating your dog doesn't quite work out for you, another option would be to plan to incorporate your dog into your practice. The key to making this work is making sure you, as the yogi, have no expectations for the practice. Your yoga practice would need to accommodate for a "moving part" (so to speak) with quick adjustments and changes if needed. If you're in down-dog with plans to follow into chaturunga, but your dog just found a comfortable spot on the mat underneath you...perhaps step into a low lunge instead. Add a smile, and go from there! Everybody is happy and you may have even invented some new yoga poses!
3. Play soothing music
This may or may not work, depending on your dog. Yoga practices are often accompanied with music. Instead of your normal DJ Drez playlist, try playing something a bit more soothing or meditative. This may help put your dog in a quieter and calmer state, and maybe he'll lay down next to you (but still partially touching your mat of course). My dog will lay down and fall asleep within 30 seconds if he hears classical guitar. Hello new at-home yoga soundtrack!
4. Throw him a bone!
Give the dog a break, all he wants to do is play and love you! This last tip is a good one. Give him a bone, literally. Giving your dog a treat of some sort (preferably one that takes about 30 min to an hour to get through) could be a perfect way to keep him busy while you do your yoga practice. The only problem I foresee (which my dog does) is he/she may just want to plop down with the treat ON your yoga mat. If this happens, revert to option #2.
Hello, I'm Julie.
Yoga to inspire preventative health and better quality of life. Bring wisdom, nourishment and a deeper connection to all aspects of your life.