If you have a cat, you’ve surely seen them doing upward dog. If you have a dog, you’ve certainly gotten a tongue bath when doing yoga at home. Animals love to move, relax, and stretch, which is why yoga comes second nature to them. In fact, many of the yoga asanas (or poses), are named in honor of particular animals (i.e., cat, cow, camel, down and up dog, eagle, frog, crow, etc.). When it comes to taking care of our bodies, we can learn a lot from our animal friends, and even do yoga alongside them.
Here are the many reasons why animals improve the yoga experience:
- Reduce isolation
It’s tough to feel lonely with a cute kitten trying to nest in you lap during easy pose, which is why yoga with animals not only offers an opportunity to socialize for humans, but for animals as well. Moving along with another living thing can be great for those living in isolation. For instance, many seniors who live in assisted living may not have a pet, or may have had to give up a beloved pet. And the same goes for rescue dogs and cats who may greatly benefit from exercise and being handled by loving human hands.
- Strengthen heart health
If you suffer with hypertension, or high blood pressure, your doctor likely recommended staying active and even adopting a gentle form of daily exercise. Yoga is a gentle on joints and promotes stress relief. Mix that with a few friendly goats, and feel any anxiety literally melt away. Research from the American Heart Association already claims that pet ownership greatly benefits heart health and even lowers the risk of heart disease.
- Promote happiness
Yoga with goats, cats, dogs, or pigs is a win-win situation for both humans and animals. As living beings, we’re social creatures at heart, meaning we learn non-verbal communication, compassion, learn to give and get affection, and get physical activity to boot! Doing yoga with animals offers plenty of mental stimulation. Plus, it’s really tough to focus on the negative when you’ve got a herd of pygmy goats bouncing around on your yoga mat.
- Boost self confidence
Do you know why equine therapy is so popular and effective for patients suffering with substance abuse issues? Caring for another living thing promotes bonding and feelings of self worth, particularly when you’re surrounded by rescue animals. This is the underlying reason why so many animal shelters pair with yoga studios to host a doga (dog yoga) event that promotes animal adoptions among attendees. Stepping outside of your own bubble to do something to help an animal does wonders for your self esteem and confidence levels.