Why Yoga with Animals?

Despite being an ancient practice, yoga also can be very trendy. You’ll find right now that there are a lot of classes offered that involve animals. They happen for a variety of reasons, too. The big question is, why? And should you try it?

The first type of yoga that I’d heard of that involved animals was dog yoga (or doga). Dog yoga was actually designed to help your pet stay flexible and burn some energy. You, in turn, should develop better posture. It is partner yoga where the dogs often just have to lay on the mat. For example, in Downward Dog, you stretch over your dog. Or when you do butterfly pose, you hold your dog under the arms and keep their bottom on the mat so you’re stretching him gently. Most poses just involve stretching and petting your dog, so they’ll love it. Small dogs can be on your back as a weight during some stretches and bigger dogs can stand and be a touch or gazing point during balance poses.

There is also cat yoga, but if you own a cat you know this is not the same as doga. Your cat will probably just lay on your mat and figure eight around your legs as you do your poses. Many shelters have cat yoga classes as a way to both fundraise and as an adoption technique. You do yoga and bond with the cats (or any other animals roaming around) and you can pet them as they go by. Then at the end, you can hang out with the cats some more and possibly adopt one. It’s not so much about the yoga in this type of animal yoga as it is with bonding and finding a forever home for some great animals.

Along the same lines with cat yoga, there is a trend of goat yoga. This one is not really clear to me, because it is not like you get to be partners with a goat, nor are they usually available for adoption. It’s just fun, I guess. I don’t have any goat yoga classes near me, so I can’t really tell you too much about it. I’d be afraid that the goat would try to eat my mat or jump on my back during Downward Dog, but I guess that adds to the fun of class.

Another type of yoga with animals involves horses. This is the type of yoga that should probably only be attempted if you’re really good or you have excellent balance. I cannot imagine doing poses on horseback, but that is exactly what you do in these types of classes. The horses are calm and steady, which is supposed to help the student be more calm and relaxed. Plus it adds a layer of concentration to your practice unlike any other, as it is much easier to fall off a horse’s back than it is to fall off a mat.

I’m very interested in doing dog yoga but I don’t have a dog. Maybe I’ll find a shelter that offers it. There is a place a couple towns over that does cat yoga, but I am allergic to them so I can’t do it. I’m not sure about the goat thing, and I’m definitely not good enough to try the horse yoga. Have you tried yoga with animals? What kind? Was it fun?