A London dog’s life seems pretty sweet. Between all those naps and treats, they’ve got it spot-on, but even they need a little help finding their centre sometimes. And according to doga (that’s dog yoga, folks) teacher Mahny Djahanguiri – who’s brought the US fitness fad to the UK – your dog can benefit from the relaxing properties of yoga just as much as you can. She suggests it can help their immune systems and deepen their bond with their owners. More importantly, doga is a way to work out without having to leave your pooch at home.
So to see if yoga really can be doggy-friendly, I took my miniature dachshund BFF Dexter to Camden’s The Pirate Castle to give Mahny’s class a whirl.
After Dex had got suitably (over)familiar with his classmates and their owners, we were ready to begin. We started with what Mahny described as ‘breath of fire’, which basically involves panting a lot like your furry friend. A series of further breathing exercises showed off just what doga can do for your pet, as Mahny’s doga-pro Maltese dog Robbie became mesmerised by her owner.
Dexter did seem to feel at home at the class (he even relieved himself in the corner), but he wasn’t quite a model student on his first try – he was more interested in humping the other dogs. However, Mahny assured us it was fine to let the dogs follow their own will and not to force them to join in.
The classes are said to be perfect for smaller dogs, like Dex, who can be lifted into poses and used as weights to aid in endurance. Luckily he was a good sport for this portion of the class and was happy to be hoisted on my hip for a triangle pose. Others included the ‘view from the bridge’ – you being the bridge and your gleeful, panting partner the view, of course.
Once we’d warmed down, there was a noticeable change in the pooches present – they all seemed pretty chilled (or exhausted, at least) and Mahny assured me I looked glowing (flattery will get you everywhere). I felt relaxed and like I’d had a good workout, and having marked his territory, I reckon Dexter could nail the whole doga thing with a few more tries. He was probably bored of the same old park walk every day anyway.
To book doga classes at The Pirate Castle, Oval Road, NW1, go to dogamahny.co.uk.
You can also try to perfect your doga moves at home with the help of Mahny’s book ‘Doga: Yoga for You and Your Dog‘, which is out now.
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