Yoga has been practiced for many centuries and since then it has taken on many different forms. Recently, sharing asanas with live animals has become the hot new yoga trend. Dog and cat yoga were the easy first picks for animal yoga, but other forms quickly followed. From goat yoga where a baby goat snuggles up to you, to sharing your savasana with a furry friend during bunny yoga, people cannot seem to get enough of animal yoga.
What is animal yoga?
Original yogis used to observe how animals behaved in the wild and the inner-workings of their natural instincts. That is why practicing yoga involves channeling your inner animal through poses such as sasakasana (rabbit), bhujangasana (cobra), mayurasana (peacock), garudasana (eagle), and matsyasana (fish), to name a few.
As Guru Jagat, a Kundalini Yoga Master stated, “…the innocence of animals is something people want to connect with.” We could not agree more. Being around animals during a practice can remind us of their simplicity and innocence. Animal yoga is a fun way to get moving and provides a silly, cute distraction from our smartphones and to-do lists. Animal yoga can be a lighthearted addition to your practice or shed light on more serious topics; animal yoga can be used to save animals, bring awareness to animal shelters, or assist with therapy practices for humans.
Why participate in animal yoga?
Find a Home for Shelter Animals: Many studios have used animal yoga as a way to find homes for sheltered animals. Dog yoga and cat yoga in particular are great ways to allow prospective pet parents to interact with the animals outside of the shelter. Animal yoga classes also give these often-abused and traumatized animals a safe and welcome space to spend some quality time with loving humans.
For Therapy: Therapy animals are often used to help people with anxiety, depression, and other clinical issues. Studies have shown that just twenty minutes with a therapy animal can increase dopamine and endorphins in the body. The presence of animals is soothing to many, as animals will not judge you. Their behavior is consistent and comforting. Goat yoga, in particular, has become a popular combination yoga and therapy practice. It is focused on creating positive energy, happiness, and smiles, it aims to help people disconnect with from sickness, depression, or stress.
For Fun: Often held in outdoor spaces and on farms, animal yoga is a great way to soak in some vitamin D, fresh air, and to connect with the innocent love of an animal. These cute, furry, and friendly creatures are free to roam around students during practice. While a wet-nosed nuzzle from a dog might interrupt your wheel-pose, many welcome the distraction during dog yoga, also known as Doga. Goat yoga is particularly popular as the baby goats get really into the practice and perch themselves on top of you during a down dog or a crow pose. Talk about focusing on your balance! Bunny yoga is crazy cute as these little fur balls seem to love hanging out yoga mats, regardless of what pose you are in.