If you’ve ever thought about how to take your downward dog to a whole new level, then have you ever considered bringing your actual dog into your yoga practice? Yes. You read that right. Yoga with animals is a real thing!
These days, people are practicing yoga with all kinds of animals—cats, dogs, goats, horses, even bunnies—because it turns out, there are legitimate benefits to being around just about any kind of pet while you go through your sun salutations. Here are 6 reasons to make your yoga routine pet-friendly.
1. Pets Are Always Ready for Physical Activity!
It can be tough to motivate yourself to exercise, especially as you get older and have limited mobility. Regular exercise is important, though, especially for seniors. Yoga is a great option for increasing flexibility and strength, and a pet just might motivate you to keep up a regular practice.
A pet is always ready for a fun activity. They’ll probably be excited to join in on whatever it is your doing—whether you’re just stretching out or really breaking a sweat. Your furry friend can help encourage you to stay active and incorporate more yoga into your life.
2. It’s an Excellent Way to Bond With Your Fur Baby
Bonding with your pet is an ongoing process. When life gets hectic, though, it can sometimes be difficult to make time for activities you can do together. Enter, yoga.
While many of the benefits of yoga with animals are for the human’s benefit, the bonding benefits go both ways. Pets learn to trust their caretakers more through yoga practice, which offers a relaxed, focused environment that allows you to nurture your pets and strengthen your relationship with them.
3. Yoga Also Benefits Your Pet
Lots of pets struggle with the same problems we do. They can be anxious, depressed, hyperactive, or stressed out for any number of reasons. If you’re like most pet owners, you want the best for your furry friend, and you’d love to help them relax and calm down. Yoga can help with behavioral problems and make it easier to work through issues your pet may be having.
Because it’s a relaxing, trust-building activity, many pets respond very positively to practicing yoga with their people. By focusing on breathing and stretching, anxious animals or those with pent-up energy can calm down and become mellower through yoga.
Some pets, like dogs, can more actively participate in yoga than others, but the benefits can extend to a number of different species.
4. Pets Help You to Remember Self-Care
Animals are fantastic for promoting mental health and well-being. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) help people with all kinds of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. But any pet can help you remember to practice self-care and to prioritize your mental health, including stress-reducing activities like yoga.
Pets prioritize their basic needs much more effectively than we do in many cases. A hungry pet will eat and a tired pet will sleep. They don’t deny themselves of the things they need. It’s a good reminder to practice healthy self-care and to prioritize the essentials over artificial priorities that could end up harming you in the long run.
5. Yoga Is Also Great for Your Pet’s Emotional Well-Being
Because our pets can’t talk, it’s easy to forget that they have similar emotional needs as us. Yoga can be beneficial for enhancing your pet’s emotional well-being by encouraging touch. Touch can activate positive brain chemicals in both pets and humans, improving overall well-being and reducing stress. And this isn’t only true for dogs—cats can also gain mental health benefits from practicing yoga with you!
6. It’s Fun!
Most people who practice yoga already find it enjoyable. But add some quality time with your pet, and your practice could go from relaxing and enjoyable to a blast! It’s way more fun to stretch out, smile, and cuddle with your pet than it is to veg out on the couch in front of the TV with them.
Tips for Practicing Yoga with Animals
One of the most important things to remember if you want to start practicing yoga with your pet is to make sure they feel comfortable. Some pets will be more engaged and enthusiastic than others and it’s important to respect their boundaries. Take it slow!
Even if you don’t have a pet of your own, you can have fun by taking a goat yoga class or a session at a local animal welfare organization offering dog or cat yoga workshops. It’s a fun way to mix up your routine and gain all the benefits of practicing yoga with animals!
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