Dogs Do Yoga Without Our Help

This was originally posted by Jennifer on Hip Slope Mama (

Have you ever watched a dog get up from a nap and do a beautiful Downward Facing Dog followed by a graceful stretch into Upward Facing Dog? My dog Baxter, who is quite familiar with waking from naps, stretches his legs to the back like a dancer. (And when he gets wet he looks like he is wearing black spandex tights with his skinny legs all sleek and shiny.)

Baxter and I have so much in common. We both have black hair, brown eyes, and slightly small heads on top of bodies that become a tad wider as you go south. Sometimes when I wear black, we look like twins. He’s my boy. Still I am not going to be teaching Baxter yoga, even though I teach yoga to two legged students and wrote a book called Doga: Yoga for Dogs .

Downward Facing Dog and Upward Facing Dog are yoga poses named after dogs because they intrinsically know how to do it. Dogs do not need to learn yoga from the likes of us. If anything, Baxter is the one who teaches me a few things. When practicing yoga in my studio, Baxter rests just outside the room. He will occasionally take a deep-gut, snorty kind of breath which epitomizes relaxation. When I hear that, I remember to relax too.

Baxter also reminds me that simple goes a long way. Caring for him on a daily basis is a deep spiritual practice. Just being with him and stroking his fur is meditative while brushing him not only yields a handsome dog but is also very therapeutic for me. Baxter is spontaneous and has perfected being non-judgmental. He is deeply committed to our family and waits patiently for us no matter what.

Baxter does need his exercise – chasing a ball in the park or playing with other dogs. And I need my yoga. But Baxter doesn’t practice yoga in the studio and you won’t find me running in the park.

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