Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yoga with Animals - First Step - Observe the rhythm...

What is the rhythm of your life? In mine, sometimes its poetry. Sometimes its beading. Sometimes its hiking. Much of the time its teaching yoga, walking the dog and grading statistics papers or being online. It's preparing that morning cup of coffee or tea, driving to class, practicing asana, practicing pranayama, meditating, thinking, thinking, thinking, quiet moments with my partner, sleeping, dreaming, walking with horses.

When people ask me about 'yoga dog training' I tell them that I train dogs using yogic principles. But, what does that mean? To do yoga with animals? Today, while walking with Ellie and practicing our Loosh Leash Walking, I had an epiphany - it's about rhythm.

It isn't about putting the dog into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) - What would I have to teach the dog about that? Any dog dipping into a play bow to entice another to play demonstrates way better than any yoga teacher that particular position of stability with comfort.

And yet, our domesticated companions, much like ourselves, do get themselves into uncomfortable physical, mental, and, yes, spiritual dilemmas. The dog that always sits slouching on one hip is likely to have some stiffness and discomfort as they get older. The cat or dog rescued from an abusive situation or adopted from a shelter may suffer in ways we can't imagine. The horse ridden by a fearful, stiff-backed rider suffers the consequences of the rider's imbalances.

So, a first step in practicing yoga with your dog, your cat, your horse, your fish, your bird, your ??? is to observe their rhythm, and to observe your own - and - start noticing; Where do your rhythms connect and flow?

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