NEWSDAY, SUNDAY, AUGUST 2. 2009 www.newsday.com
a vitalsigns The yoga paws that refreshes
BY DANA KLOSNER Special to Newsday
On a beautiful summer evening, a yoga class gathered outside on the lawn. Like many yoga classes, the group began with a meditative Om. But this class was different. It was not only people gathered on the lawn at the Westhampton Bideawee an animal welfare organization. Each person was joined by their dog
The practice is known as “doga,” simply meaning yoga with your dog
“Dogs are yoga,” said instructor Kari Harendorf, a certified yoga instructor who is also a dog trainer and a veterinary technician. “They are always in the moment. They love it when you are on the floor rolling around with them.”
The dog owners were encouraged to talk to their dogs throughout the class, and always ask for kisses. After the Oms, which symbolize the humming of the universe, the humans took the dogs’ ears in hand for telekinetic touch.
“The ears are sensitive and have a lot of capillaries,” Harendorf explained. The humans were instructed to apply direct pressure to the ears with their thumb and index finger.
Yes, it’s yoga for dogs! Bideawee has classes for dogs and their humans in Manhattan and “This is a very calming touch Westhampton. Distractions aside, the exercises seem to help dogs and people. for the dog. Harendorf said.
For Harendorf, the idea of “Everybody went into the sun. They gently dropped the with a dog is beneficial to your doga classes sprang up naturally. class quite skeptical,” Brennen paws down, then lifted the hind health.” Harendorf said. “The She was training as a yoga in- said. “I took a shelter dog into legs off the ground.
simple act of petting your dog structor. While she was practic the class that I never met be- As the humans did poses like lowers your heart rate and ing, her dog Charlie, a husky fore. It’s quite a workout. The downward-facing dog, cat pose blood pressure. It does the mix, always had to be on the animals that were in there and warrior one, the dogs would same for dogs. It releases seromat. She began incorporating never met before. They were lie at their owner’s feet and act tonin for them and for us.” him into her poses. In 2004, she put into positions that they as support blocks. Well, at least “The advantage for your dog opened a yoga studio in Manhat- were never in before. It was re that’s what they were supposed is 45 minutes of your undivided tan that included doga classes. markable how relaxed they to be doing. Dogs will be dogs. attention.” Harendorf said.
The idea of doga is not some were. I left with a new apprecia- When the UPS truck pulled up. “This is such a technological thing unique to Harendorf ortion of the flexibility of dogs.” that caught all the dogs’ atten- age. Studies show that workers New York. There are classes
tion, but they were soon brought don’t have 20 minutes of uninbeing taught all over the coun Bonding for dogs
back to their positions.
terrupted time, and when they try, inding Chicago, San Fran While a good workout for peo When Dorsey Gray of Quogue do, they interrupt themselves cisco and Seattle. Instructors are ple, the classes have benefits for took the child’s pose, her 20- by checking their BlackBerrys. not required to get certification, the dogs as well, Brennen said pound Havanese, Jessie, was This class gives you an opportubut there are training sessions. “Any type of act that allows placed on her back Gray was a nity to get away and do what re
The Bideawee organization animals to spend time bonding bit apprehensive at first, but ally matters.”
rted their doga classes two with their owners is beneficial,” once the dog was on her back. Harendorf teaches doga at years ago in Manhattan
she said. “Parts of the session in- she enjoyed the position. Doga the Bideawee in Manhattan “Our main objective is to offer volve light tough and massage, can be done with dogs of any twice a month and once a programs that foster and pro and that’s very calming and size.
month during the summer at mote the human-animal bond,” therapeutic for the dog,
the Bideawee in Westhampton. said Dr. Robin Brennen, vice At the Westhampton Bideaw- Health benefits
The next doga class will be president of program operations ee session, the owners were in- The human group took the held on Aug. 20 from 6 to 7 p.m. and chief of veterinary services. structed to move their dogs chair pose while the dogs lay Dogs must be spayed or neu”[Our goal] is to build families, into sun salutations.
behind them. The humans tered and be up to date with vac and pets are part of the family.” The humans held their dogs placed their hands on their cines. For more information, or Brennen participated in one underneath their shoulders and dogs’ heads for balance.
to register, call Amy Hraniotis of the first classes.
lifted their front paws to the Studies show that living at 631-325-0200, ext. 118. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.