Yoga – Gone to the Dogs!

Yoga invites us to drop beneath the surface of life into quieter, more introspective realms; at our house it’s a family affair.

First and foremost, it’s important to pay close attention — especially to one’s breathing.

Next, sink into stillness and get comfortable…

…really comfortable.

Our online instructor says, “Yoga straps help us stretch to the limit, increasing flexibility and muscular strength.” Willa’s look says, “You have GOT to be kidding!”

“Happy Baby” pose gently brings a greater awareness to the hip joints.

The “Butterfly” pose (also known as “Cobbler’s” pose) provides relief to muscle tension around the inner thigh area.

We use several props in our practice. Lexi will be the equivalent of 77 human years this August. She appreciates the comfortable support of an extra blanket throughout the session.

Legs-up-the-wall (or simply balanced in the air) is a posture that gets blood flowing to parts of the body that need it.

Willa is doing an exaggerated “Downward Facing Dog” pose. This posture feels especially good after resting because it elongates and lengthens the back. And as a mild inversion, it’s great for increasing blood flow to the brain and eyes.

Certain yoga postures can strengthen the cervical curve in the back of the neck.

Commonly referred to as “Corpse” pose, we simply call it “Dead Dog” at our house.

After a balanced practice, the muscles in the entire body will have been stretched. “Shavasana” provides the body with a chance to regroup and reset itself.


Namaste — hands held in prayer-like fashion in front of the heart, accompanied by a slight bow — represents the belief that there’s a divine spark within each of us. This gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one, by the soul in another.

nam means bow
as means I
te means you

Therefore, namaste literally means “bow I you” or “I bow to you.”

If you have animal companions at home, what do they enjoy doing with you?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

Discovering the Seven Selves     Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

106 thoughts on “Yoga – Gone to the Dogs!

  1. I have never been any good at such things as meditation. Don’t think many of western world are DNA programmed to do so. The concrete jungle of the technopolis and all. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, but yes, I know, that is precisely the point of doing it.

  2. This is wonderful, Laurie! I’ve just re-started a yoga practice (after a ten year hiatus…to allow my limbs and joints to completely freeze up, evidently!), and am amazed every day at how just that small routine makes me feel better. My dogs don’t participate, feeling the most important thing they can do when I’m that close to the ground is lick my face. Thanks for a fun post!

  3. Namaste! Love love love the pics–and the accompanying texts! To think that dogs can do yoga as well as you and Len. 🙂 Reminds me. Haven’t done the yoga stretches yet this morning!

  4. Love this Laurie! Whenever I roll out my mat at home, Zelda loves to nap on it! I have photos of her curled up on the end of the mat with me practicing. Namaste!!

  5. My “yoga” is 30 minutes of Richard Simmons every day… that is my speed and I think everybody has to find their own comfort level… my old cat likes to join in but he doesn’t quite have the timing down…. he goes left when I go right (trying to trip me up?)…. my younger cat hides under a chair and looks on from a safe distance with disdain…

  6. I’ve never really given yoga much of a serious try, but I’ve supected for years that I’d benefit from it. Maybe once we’re settled in Ecuador. I’m with Kathy, however. The photos here are priceless! Hope you have a peaceful and productive week, my friend.

  7. Love that the entire family has a yoga practice — even the dogs.

    Our cat Callie isn’t really into yoga. Sometimes she watches, but usually goes in the other room. She does have a regular meditation practice though — cats are naturals when it comes to meditation. What she loves to do with me is watch me quilt. She sits beside me and carefully watches every stitch and movement of the needle. So far she haven’t tried to catch it — good kitty.

    • Espirational – I can well imagine the intense concentration and fascination Callie would have with the quilting process – the repetition of the needle’s slow and deliberate movement. And you’re right – cats are shoe-ins when it comes to meditation 🙂

  8. I have seriously considered taking up some form of Yoga to keep my limbs and joints flexible throughout the Winter months. During the warmer months I stay fairly limber from the gardening I do. My Chicken Ladies keep me nimble by running to stand on my feet and getting under them as I bring breakfast and other meals through out the day. It’s a form of Hip-hop to keep from treading on their little selves.

  9. Sans pets here sadly. My body needs attention. I recently purchased Peggy Cappy’s CD “Easy Yoga for Easing Pain.” I’m particularly interested in gaining greater flexibility and supporting those sore joints (ah aging). I’ve watched her on PBS and like her gentle, ease in approach to yoga. She also has other tapes including one on back pain (thankfully I don’t have that issue). Hopefully I’ll be able to literally bow more easily in the future. Namaste in spirit for now.

  10. By the way, I’ll make a commitment here today to put that CD in tomorrow and start the yoga. Thanks for you post … and the motivation.

  11. We have no animal company at home Laurie that actually live with us. We always tell everyone that we have a hard enough time taking care of each other so this is all we can manage. But sometimes dogs visit with friends. Most times we have wild life outside our door and it is a “sit and observe affair.” The birds especially delight this time of year. We are not sharing yoga posses yet. Maybe next year 😉

  12. What a wonderful post…and super photos! I started a regular yoga practice about seven years ago after being in a strength training program at a gym. The much younger “coach” kept remarking that although my balance wasn’t great, “that just happens when we age.” I couldn’t bee-line any faster to a yoga class if someone had been chasing me! And the benefits have been immeasurable. I am always so happy when someone really highlights the practice and encourages others to think more about it, because so many of my friends won’t even try, saying, “I’m not flexible enough.” My yoga instructor says that’s like a person saying they can’t drink water because they’re too thirsty! Your big puppy has the right idea–looking very relaxed and NO stress! 🙂

  13. Laurie, thanks for this post. After many years of enjoying my morning yoga ritual I must say my practice has indeed gone to the dogs too – but not in the same charming way yours has. Willa and Lexi have inspired me to fish out my mat and begin anew. . .keep those pups on the payroll.

  14. Thank you so much for this post, Laurie. I’d signed up for Mayne Island’s yoga classes with the wonderful Dove. I was really looking forward to it. However, my body fell victim to a mighty flue bug. These photos will help me wait until I’m strong enough to return.
    Now, to answer…
    I am owned by two elderly cats–Joey and Ticky. Our relationship is a rich and supportive one. Lately, because I’m sick,. they both take turns watching over me throughout the night.

    • Leanne – That same flu bug has been going around here too and it’s just plain wicked! It’s as far east as Georgia because my friend Sandi said it was practically at epidemic levels there. I got slammed with it just after Christmas and was down-for-the-count for three weeks. Lay low, and don’t try to do too much, too fast. Joey and Tickey sound like amazing animal companions. Once you’re up and about again – with the flu bug in your rearview mirror – then you can start yoga, and be all the better for it. Who knows, you’ll probably create knit yoga mats!

  15. This morning Ailsa was first up, and out to the kitchen to put her coffee machine on, and left the bedroom door open.
    Within 30 seconds Huia was around my side of the bed, with her head and forelegs on the bed wanting pats, and Sandy around Ailsa’s side – so I was stretched across the superking bed scratching both dogs ears.
    Then Ailsa made noises in the kitchen and both dogs disappeared.
    A few minutes later Huia returned with a tennis bal in her mouth, and dropped it on the bed beside me. After 5 minutes of me throwing the ball onto the wall and bouncing it out the door into the hall, it was time for me to get up.
    Ailsa is busy practising for a concert on the lawn in South Bay this afternoon, while I am writing this and looking forward to the Waitangi Day golf tournament later today, and the doggesses are curled up on their couch waiting for their morning walk.

    • Ted – Your morning wake up call sounds like four-legged fun! Speaking of legs, tell Ailsa to break hers (not for real, she’s done that before. For LUCK at the concert. Not that she needs it — she’s an extraordinary, accomplished pianist).

  16. Oh you made me laugh and laugh – except ZIP often lays down on my chest at the end pose. When I am using the small medicine balls in my healing process he sticks his nose under my body and tries to push the ball out to engage in a game – the hardest part is the squirrel and deer barking during the silent part…maybe I need to make that the mantra!

    Delightful. Suffering a 7th day of a huge headache…so using those balls and Liangong a great deal right now…I think my body is letting go of the chocolate (caffeine) that I had over the holidays and the extra sugar….I do not think I could write a whole post right now…and I usually have a number in the queue but was just starting out my new schedule for 2013 – now I am 11 books behind too…yikes…need more yoga!

      • I signed up for goop, but could not stay sitting at the computer to read enough of the link to find the reflexology do it yourself… I am wondering tonight if there is a relationship to the stiff shoulder and the isolated back pain and maybe the liver is re-creating itself? I thought I would need to get my cortisol levels lower ( yoga and meditation) definitely something is going on…thank you for the link. I have had several hours of relief today and was able to watch the last section of This Emotional Life documentary that corresponds with the work of the last book I reviewed. ( kind of hard on Louise Hay but happy the Dalai Lama is pushing scientific study of meditation) Thank you for the reference

      • Patricia – I hope you’re feeling better today. If push comes to shove, just put a rolling pin on the floor in front of your chair, exert a little pressure and roll it back and forth with your bare feet. And while that’s not reflexology, it’ll apply pressure to the neurological reflex points on the soles of your feet, triggering the production of endorphins (and all sorts of other healing chemicals) that are sure to make your body feel better 🙂

  17. Hi Laurie,
    Love those pictures! My dogs usually lay on the couch while I yoga. They sure do remind me to do it tho, with their great dog stretches! They learned to stay out of my way due to the Zumba videos I do! It’s safer, haha!

  18. I’ve just started doing a Yoga based Pilates session and I absolutely cannot believe how light and peaceful I feel afterward, which is a much better feeling in both body and mind, than when after I run. (Although, runner’s endorphins have their own special benefits, too!) Love the pet pics, Laurie!! My cat just watches me throughout my session, giving me that lazy, “you’re crazy” look only kitties can give! lol Thanks for sharing Laurie!

      • 🙂 Sometimes, especially on “certain” difficult days, I really wish I could return in my next life as my cat!

      • Deb – I can’t begin to tell you the number of times my husband and I have said the same thing about our animal companions. The caveat is, we want to be the pets of US. Kinda hard to pull off 🙂

  19. They are so precious! I should try yoga my friend is taking a class she really likes it. I have two dogs, Penny and Toby! Penny is a spaniel mix with a lab and Toby is a maltese. Penny loves to follow me everywhere I think she thinks I am her mom 🙂 Toby follows my twin sister around.

    • Any Lucky Penny – I promise that once you try yoga, you’ll be hooked. Who knows, Penny and Toby may follow right along – I think the slow movements are calming and mesmerizing to our four-legged friends 🙂

  20. Our family pet is a VERY special yellow lab who has been with us for many years. Hence old age has set in. I used to go running with him in his younger years for an hour at a time. Now we go for little loops around the block and I have to help him up the stairs. We don’t do yoga but he sooo loves his hip rubs. It is tough watching a much loved pet become old, especially when your memories are of him being a happy, lively puppy. But there is still joy in him, just a different kind of joy. This post has been my absolute favourite out of all of your wonderful posts. Thank you for the chuckle. ~ Thea

    • Thea – Your yellow lab sounds like a wonderful companion. I’m so glad he’s got you and yours to insure that his golden years are comfortable and loving. I’m glad you resonated with this post, thank you for letting me know.

  21. Your family yoga sessions look wonderful! Back in September when our son and daughter were visiting us, our daughter decided we should all have a yoga session together for our collective well-being. So I popped an instructional beginner yoga DVD into the player and we gave it a try, but it wasn’t too long before husband and son were rolling around on the floor laughing uncontrollably over their ineptitude. Clearly, winning the guys over is going to take some time. 🙂

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  23. “Dog gone it! ” These pictures are priceless. I never had an opportunity to share my yoga practice with my 4 legged family members. However, our 6 year old granddaughter loves practicing yoga with me. I am always delighted by her innovative postures. We both are “Happy Babies” when we finish. Thanks for the smiles. Namaste!

    • Sheila – Oh how fun that you and your granddaughter practice yoga together. Not only are you helping her to build a strong body, mind, and spirit, but fond memories that she will cherish in the future.

  24. Oh boy Laurie, you really let the cat out of the hat with that question! Ha! We have four cats, 2 labs, 1 pug and 2 parrots, and they are all very much a part of our lives. The dogs have to be walked and let out in the yard, both labs are terrors in the kitchen when we are eating, the pug has to be watched closely as he is an indiscriminate urinator, and the parrots in the basement are always trying to undermine our movie viewings with endless choruses of “hello” and “how are you?” The dogs and the cats are lovable of course and petting time is prohibitive. The birds are always in their cage, and you don’t want to mess around with those beaks!

    Love the partial photos of you and Len!

    • Sam [Dr. Doolittle] – The energy in your home has got to be that on the level of a steadily-thrumming hovercraft! The first thing that came to mind after reading your comment was the 1968 film “Yours, Mine and Ours” starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. I don’t remember if they had pets, but I do remember the shenanigans and hilarity of it all!

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  27. My cat follows me around the house. He likes to sit an watch me work and occasionally tries to help me type. He also tries to talk on the phone. He looks very fiercely at any mouse who comes into the house.

  28. Awesome post, Laurie. 🙂 I’m generally a walking/hiking/travel person. Still struggling with yoga, although after your post, I may finally get inspired.
    The doggies are ADORABLE! I have a kitty, named Lily, and she likes to sleep on a pillow on top of my desk when I write, or watch movies together. No yoga here, but I could never bend into a pretzel, like she can, or jump up on the counter, like she does. 😉

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