A yoga class for dogs (and people)

Posted: May 14, 2012 at 3:11 am

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SHANNON MONEO VICTORIA From Monday's Globe and Mail Published Sunday, May. 13, 2012 7:53PM EDT Last updated Sunday, May. 13, 2012 7:55PM EDT

With music softly playing in the background, the calm voice of yoga teacher Gwen Siciliano instructs five women, each with their beloved dog beside them, to settle into a pose.

But theres no barking out instructions at what is Vancouver Islands only yoga class for dogs and people doga where participants bond on the mat during one hour of heavy breathing and soft poses.

Its about tuning into yourself and settling into yourself so the dog will feel it, says Ms. Siciliano, who teaches doga at the Fuller Lake Arena near Duncan, B.C. Youre grooving to your breath, going into a twist, holding the pose and getting into this quietness. The dogs become totally relaxed, said Ms. Siciliano, a yoga practitioner for 10 years and yoga teacher for two years.

When a fitness co-ordinator asked her if shed like to lead a doga class. Ms. Siciliano, who owns four dogs, at first didnt bite.

I thought she was crazy. I thought it was a gimmick, she said.

But once she tried it with her two golden retrievers, shepherd, and Shih Tzu-mix, Ms. Siciliano realized you can teach an old dog new tricks.

You might judge this as flaky, but once youve experienced it, youll really understand the quality of the bonding, she said. Its like Mommy and Me yoga, where you bring your kid.

At the one-hour class, dog owners bring their pets favourite blanket and toy and use the same spot each week. The dogs, who remain on leash, dont socialize before or during class.

Even hyper Jack Russells or high-strung Chihuahuas can be brought under the calming spell of doga as long as the owner retains control, Ms. Siciliano said.

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A yoga class for dogs (and people)

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