Ever wish you could combine your love for animals with your yoga practice in such a way that goes beyond using vegan and cruelty-free yoga products? If you’re up to try something seriously quirky, practicing yoga with live animals by your side (or underneath you or over you) might be something worth considering.
Yes, practicing yoga alongside animals is a thing. It’s just one of the many trends that proves yoga is versatile enough for practically anyone to get involved with — even those who aren’t human!
Dog Yoga (Doga)
Perhaps the most popular form of animal-involved yoga is dog yoga, or “doga.” It’s a style of partner yoga designed for dog owners, which gives them the opportunity to bond with their canine family members. Dogs, of course, can’t perform the yoga postures that people can, so doga has very specific partner postures that are designed for dogs. Depending on where you live, you may be lucky enough to find doga classes being offered in your area.
Cat yoga isn’t exactly like dog yoga. After all, not all cats have the friendly, inviting personalities that dogs have and trying to make your cat do yoga with you could result in a seriously scary scratch incident! Cat yoga is more about combining the joys of having cats present while people practice yoga. Some yoga studios invite shelter cats into their classes, giving students the opportunity to interact with them outside the shelter and hopefully help them find new homes.
Looking to really challenge your sense of balance? Horseback yoga is just what it sounds like it is: practicing yoga while perched on the back of a horse. Tree pose may be a cinch on stable, flat ground, but on a horse? Now that’s a challenge! If you’re willing to try this one, you’re going to have to find one of the few retreat centers and resorts that offer it. This is one style of yoga that certainly requires a trained professional to safely guide you through performing elegant yoga poses on a horse.
If you thought animal-friendly yoga couldn’t get any quirkier, think again. Goat yoga began at the No Regrets Farm in Albany, Oregon when farm owner Lainey Morse let a friend hold her classes there. The goats got curious and weren’t at all shy to hang around as everyone practiced on their mats. And that’s how goat yoga came to be. The goats don’t do any actual yoga, but their presence offers a very fun and adorable addition to a class full of people!
Yoga With Animals: Cute or Not?
Practicing yoga alongside animals is an interesting way to shake things up, but it certainly isn’t for every yogi (or every animal, for that matter). Having an animal around that doesn’t know what’s going on can be distracting, and anything with hooves, horns, teeth, or claws could pose a danger to yogis who wish to try to get them to cooperate.
If you’re going to try any of the above styles of animal yoga out, be prepared to not be completely overwhelmed with cuteness and remember to respect the animal’s boundaries. Animals have minds of their own too, and they won’t hesitate to let you know when they don’t like what you’re doing!
Image (edited) via JasonParis