Yoga is a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, but sometimes we can get a wee bit too serious about our yoga practice. It is easy to get caught up in yearning to achieve self-actualization, to fulfill our fullest potential, and to nail that chaturanga jump back. If you have been a yogi for years and want to add some levity and playfulness to your practice, consider enrolling in a puppy yoga class. These classes provide the same benefits (and more) as traditional yoga does, but with a twist—all of your sessions will include playful puppies nibbling on you.
What is Puppy Yoga?
As the name suggests, puppy yoga classes involve having adorable puppies roaming from one yoga mat to the next, cuddling with participants, and playing with other puppies as you move, flow, and breathe. The pups are sometimes incorporated into some of the yoga poses, otherwise, they happily roam free throughout the room. Depending on the class, the puppies may be borrowed from a local animal shelter or the yoga class might work with local breeders. If the pups are from shelters, it gives them an opportunity to be adopted, if from a breeder then most of the pups will have already been claimed. Regardless of the source, the puppies get the chance to enhance their socialization with others. A typical puppy class will have approximately 12-30 yogis and doggies, but it’s advised to check in with the instructor to make sure. The puppies in the class will be up to 14 weeks old.
Puppy yoga rules
There are not a lot of rules in puppy yoga classes, but you should consider a few things. First, puppies will often chew and pee on things, so leaving any cherished items behind is a good idea. The class may not permit outside mats or other items to be used to protect the pups’ immune systems. Secondly, for the same reason, do not expect to bring your own dog to the class. While most yoga studios frown upon bringing your phone to class, it is highly recommended to bring your cellphone or other camera to take photos. In fact, some programs like the puppy yoga classes by Yoga Kawawill help every participant take memorable photos of themselves with these fun furry friends.
Puppy Yoga Benefits
Doing yoga with cute puppies is fun, joyful and adorable. But aside from the pure joy of being surrounded by these dogs while practicing yoga, enrolling in these classes can actually provide many additional benefits.
1. Puppies Are Great Motivators
Practicing yoga long-term can greatly benefit your mind and body. However, for you to enjoy all of these benefits, you need to incorporate yoga into your lifestyle and practice it regularly. Yoga won’t have much impact on your well-being if you only practice it haphazardly. The presence of the puppies can be a great motivator for you to continue your efforts in doing yoga. Instead of complaining about how early you should wake up to join classes, you’ll look forward to attending these classes because you know that some puppies are already waiting for you. Because every puppy yoga class is unpredictable, you’ll be excited to join all of your classes and make sure that you don’t miss any. You’ll be surprised how fast time flies as you’re busy having fun practicing with these puppies around!
2. Improves Your Mental Health
Countless research studies have already backed up claims about how beneficial yoga is to a person’s mental health. It boosts your attention, focus, and concentration, and improves your cognitive functions. Adding puppies to your yoga practice can further boost the impact of these benefits. Puppy yoga classes can help you feel more positive about yourself and ward off stress. Over time, puppy yoga can also make you feel less isolated, especially if you’re accustomed to living alone. Traditional classes allow you to surround yourself with people who share the same interests as you do, but making friends with them can be a struggle. With puppy yoga classes, you won’t have to worry about being tongue-tied because puppies can always break the ice and provide natural opportunities to interact with the other students. Creating new friendships is important for your mental health as it increases your sense of belongingness and improves your self-confidence. Having new friends can also lessen anxiety and stress, even as you grow older.
3. Boosts Your Overall Health
Puppy yoga doesn’t only benefit your mental health; because of the positive interactions you can experience with puppies, puppy classes can also lower your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure lessens your risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Puppy yoga can also lower the stress levels in your body, helping you curb your appetite and avoid stress eating. Over time, puppy yoga classes can help you lose weight and encourage healthy eating.
4. The Puppies Benefit Too
Joining puppy yoga classes benefit not only yogis like you. This type of yoga actually works as a two-way street because the puppies present in the classes also benefit from the experience. The positive interactions and mental stimulations you create in puppy yoga classes can also improve the health and wellness of the puppies. With regular exposure to humans, puppies grow up to become very sociable animals. Some puppy classes also allow yogis to play with puppies that are actually up for adoption. This means that if you like the puppy you’re playing with during your classes, you’ll have the opportunity to adopt and care for them for years. This can be very beneficial for the puppies.
Tips for Participating in Puppy Yoga
1. Arrive Early to Get Acclimated to the Environment
Arriving early can help you feel more comfortable and prepared, as you have extra time to get acclimated to the environment and space where the class will be held. It also gives you the opportunity to chat with the instructor, ask any questions you may have, and clarify anything regarding the class. Arriving early allows you to meet some of the participating puppies, enabling you to build a rapport and get to know them better before the class begins. Doing so helps reduce initial anxiety and lets you fully enjoy the experience of practicing yoga with furry friends.
2. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Wearing comfortable clothing will allow you to fully focus on the movements and poses without feeling restricted or uncomfortable during your yoga practice. It’s best to avoid wearing your favorite outfit when practicing puppy yoga because there’s a good chance you’ll get some puppy fur on you. Puppies love to play and may accidentally scratch or bite your clothes , so it’s important to choose something that’s durable and easy to wash.
3. Practice Proper Animal Handling
Practicing proper animal handling is crucial not only for the safety and well-being of the young puppies, but also to ensure that all participants have a positive and enjoyable experience. Approach the puppies slowly and calmly, allowing them to come to you on their own terms instead of chasing or picking them up without consent. When picking them up, support their entire bodies and avoid grabbing them by the scruff of their neck. Don’t force them into any poses or uncomfortable positions. Respect their boundaries and cues, such as whining or struggling to get free. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that everyone – both human and furry friend – has a great time during the yoga session.
4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings and the Puppies’ Safety
It’s important to prioritize safety during the class and to be aware of your surroundings and the puppies’ safety at all times. This includes being mindful of your movements and positions to prevent accidentally injuring or stepping on a puppy, as well as ensuring that the space is safe and free of any hazards or potentially dangerous objects. It’s crucial to follow any instructions or guidelines given by the instructor to prevent any unnecessary risks or injuries to yourself or the puppies. By staying attentive and mindful throughout the class, you can ensure a positive and safe experience for both you and your furry companions.
5. Use Soothing Tones and Keep Noise Levels Low
When taking part in puppy yoga, it is important to use soothing tones and keep noise levels low to avoid startling or overwhelming the puppies. Loud and sudden noises can frighten these young animals and disrupt the peaceful environment of the class. By speaking softly and minimizing any unnecessary noise, you can help create a calm and comforting atmosphere that benefits both you and the puppies.
6. Enjoy the Experience and Have Fun!
The intention of puppy yoga is to provide a fun and unique way to practice yoga while enjoying the company of furry friends. The playful energy of the puppies can be infectious and can help you let go of stress and tension. Allow yourself to lean into the fun and playfulness of the class and let the puppies bring a smile to your face as you move through your practice. Be present during the session and let yourself be immersed in the moment, letting the playful energy of the puppies invigorate and lighten your mood. Don’t be afraid to laugh, smile, and mingle with the other participants.
Try Out Puppy Yoga Near You
If the idea of practicing asanas while playing with cute puppies is something up your alley, start looking for studios that offer puppy yoga classes. You could also try to contact your local animal shelters to see if they partner with any yoga instructors or yoga studios in your area.
If you are still unsure what a puppy yoga class would look like, check out the video below: