Monday, July 15, 2013

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Doga (Dog Yoga) Pose

A new form of yoga, Doga, may be controversial. Is doga taking the tradition of yoga too far? Perhaps getting to the mat, is all that matters? Making a commitment to yoga for your health, whether it be a sole endeavor or with a friend or pet may provide opportunities for life-transforming benefits as well as a means to release tension, anger, and fear and bring us back to a place of happiness and bliss. 

Spending time on the mat with the addition of a dog, allows for a loving bond and connection with a canine as well as the physical and mental benefits received when we spend time with a loving pet. Dogs love the attention and we benefit from their presence, companionship and love. While not traditional, doga classes are a rising trend.

Wide-Seated Forward Bend or Upavistha Konasana, with Yogi and Friend.
Benefits of Wide-Seated Forward Bend include:
● Stretches the inner thighs or adductor muscles in the legs and the hamstrings
● Encourages us to have good posture and stretches and elongates the muscles in the spine
● Increases blood flow to the abdominal organs
● Encourages us to activate and strengthen the core

To perform Wide-Legged Forward Fold with your dog:

1. Come to a 90 degree seat with legs spread wide and your pelvis centered with your dog on your mat.
2. Make sure that the sitting bones are grounded into the earth and adjust your pelvis forward or backward so that your spine is straight and not slumped or overly arched and your pelvis is neutral. Flex your toes towards your face.

3. Bring your palms to the earth in front or placed onto the dog’s back. Take an inhale breath and bring awareness to the chest and shoulders, lift the chest and on an exhale, relax the shoulders down your back and aware from the ears, creating space in between the ears and shoulders.

4. Continue to breathe and accentuate the breath. Inhale to prepare for movement, noticing the expansion of the chest and back, exhale and begin to activate the core, draw the lower ribs inward. You may feel enough sensation here or prepare to walk the palms forward either on the mat or down the dog’s back, maintain a flat and tall spine, notice if the back is rounding.

5. If the back tends to round, take a half-way lift and re-lengthen the spine and lift the chest and continue to stay where the spine is long or fold deeper, bringing the forehead closer towards the feet rather than towards the knees. Press the thighs downward and imagine the torso is growing longer which each breath.

6. When you find comfort in the depth of the posture, with a balance of ease and effort, slightly tuck the chin towards the chest to lengthen the neck. Stay in the posture and breathe for 3-5 full inhalations and exhalations, and feel the body and mind slow down, as the stress and worries of the day melt away. Feel everything slow down. Check-in with the dog to see if they have also relaxed, taking advantage of the moment to give them massage,love and affection.

7. To slowly come out of the pose, activate the core, and on inhale breath, use the palms to walk yourself back up to sitting, maintaining a tall, flat spine.

Modifications for tight hamstrings or pain in the low back
● sit on a block or blanket to give you a little height while stretching in the pose and to best maintain the natural c-curve in the low spine
● stay upright rather than folding forward and keep the palms on the mat or on your dog for support
● if moving into this pose gives you low-back pain, gently come out

Helpful Tip: If you have a high energy dog like the dog in the photo, a terrier breed, try taking them a for a walk before the session to release energy in order for them to be more relaxed. If the dog seems uninterested in joining, commit to what works on your own body for the present moment and try again on another opportunity.

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.

Connecting to the breath while articulating movements in a mindful manner, we create opportunity to connect to ourselves, bringing our awareness and intention towards our practice. The healing potentials are many, to grow on a spiritual level, become more aware of our true selves, allowing ego and false perceptions to diminish, and becoming more aware of habits and thought patterns that do not serve us and distract us from our goals and relationships.We are able to build, connect, and heal even as we settle onto our mats committing to breathe, postures, and mindfulness in doga.

Take a moment to be grateful for the gift of yoga and for the opportunity for healing mental, physical and spiritual health, melting away stress, fear, and anxiety. When we take time on our yoga mat, we look inward and manifest clarity, strength, and happiness.

Christi Iacono

In Rhythms Yoga- Contact for more info. Go to for class schedule and privates.

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