Doga (yoga)

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Dog and owner in downward dog pose in a doga session
Doga pose: Downward Dog or Adho mukha śvānāsana

Doga (a portmanteau of "Dog Yoga", and pronounced to rhyme with "yoga") is the practice of yoga as exercise with pet dogs. The yoga hybrid began in America around 2002, came to Britain in 2004, and had spread around the Western world by 2011.

Doga teachers have noted the "seemingly enlightened"[1] nature of dogs and the benefits of exercise, bonding and enjoyment that the activity can bring. The Doga teacher Mahny Djahanguiri has stated that while dogs "don't actually do yoga",[2] Doga brings laughter and joy, freeing people from feeling they must be perfect to practice. Doga has however been criticised as a fad and for trivialising yoga.


A dog apparently meditating in Sukhasana. Mahny Djahanguiri notes that "of course dogs don't actually do yoga".[3]

Doga is a hybrid of yoga as exercise with the use of pet dogs. It began in America;[3][4] the actress Suzi Teitelman created it around 2002.[5][6] Teitelman states that "The person takes dog deeper into a stretch, and the dog takes the person deeper", while "if you have a dog on your arm in a standing posture it helps balance and strength."[7] She adds that perhaps Doga's main benefit "for dogs and their owners is the bonding it creates."[8] In 2003, Jennifer Brilliant and William Berloni published their book Doga: Yoga for Dogs; they claimed that "Dogis[a] [sic] never try to impress. They practice doga with effortlessness and compassion, self-aware but never self-conscious."[9] ABC News reported that the 30-minute classes that "allow[ed] you to meditate with dogs" were "surprisingly orderly".[10]

Doga was brought to the United Kingdom in 2004 by a pet shop, the Pet Pavilion of London. In this version, the pets are often held by their owners.[4] Doga was popularised in the UK by the Swiss-British yoga teacher Mahny Djahanguiri;[3] her 2015 book Doga: Yoga for you and your dog notes that "of course dogs don't actually do yoga", and suggests that "Doga has very little to do with perfection. It brings laughter and joy to people's hearts".[2] The travel writer Elizabeth Gowing tried one of Djahanguiri's classes in Shoreditch, an inner-city district with few dogs; she observed the similarity of the way puppies romped about the class to the wandering of her unruly puppy-mind thoughts when first learning meditation, and noted that city-dwellers without dogs seemed to be longing for dogs to love.[11] The class stepped through the asanas, modified to include dogs: reclining Boat pose, the dogs reclining in their owners' laps; the standing Triangle pose, with dog under an arm "like a handbag";[11] and the inverted Downward Dog, one "obliging spaniel" joining in.[11]

Doga arrived in Australia by 2011, where the instructor Hannah Reed stated that "the dogs are massaged gently using pressure points" and that the practice was safe for dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia, but she noted that classes could be "quite chaotic".[12] A 2014 Canadian version of Doga claimed to explore and develop the dogs' social learning through imitation and cognition.[13]


Bethany Lyttle writing in The New York Times, and Katie Briney writing on the Active website, report claimed advantages of Doga, including that the practice emphasizes yoga's focus on union between beings; helps establish a pack mentality; strengthens the bond between owner and pet; can provide additional weight resistance to intensify a physical practice; can assist injured, obese, or elderly dogs; and is enjoyable.[14][15] Doga teacher Brenda Bryan writes in her 2009 book Barking Buddha that "with their innate instincts, joy in simple pleasures, and soulful eyes, dogs also are seemingly enlightened beings—Barking Buddhas, if you will", and can "teach us about life and love".[1]

The occupational therapist Melissa Y. Winkle describes in her book Dogwood Doga a wide range of activities shared by owner and dog, selected for their therapeutic value, with precautions to be observed.[16]


Doga has been criticised as a fad, for trivialising yoga, for lax policies on teacher certification, and for untrained dogs' interference in participants' concentration and relaxation.[14] The UK charity Dogs Trust has warned that unsupervised Doga may harm the dogs' welfare.[3] Australian dog trainer Martin Dominick stated without adducing evidence that doga could worsen the behaviour of disobedient dogs.[12] A pet insurance CEO, Jack Stephens, stated that yoga's therapeutic effects "were never proven on dogs".[10]

Analysts at the Swedish merchant bank SEB selected "dog yoga" in 2007 as the most evident sign of "overheating" – an excessive money supply encouraging people to spend on trivia, possibly predicting a financial crash – in the Swedish economy.[17]


  1. ^ "Dogi": compare Yogi.


  1. ^ a b Bryan, Brenda; Sparks, Bev (photography) (2009). Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi. Seattle, Washington: Skipstone. pp. 8–10. ISBN 978-1-594-85141-4. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Djahanguiri, Mahny (2015). Doga : Yoga for you and your dog. London: Hamlyn. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-600-62892-7. OCLC 910918592.
  3. ^ a b c d "Yoga – with dogs". BBC. September 20, 2013. Archived from the original on March 21, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Lawson, Alastair (July 6, 2004). "Stressed out dogs relax through yoga (text and video)". BBC News. Archived from the original on March 10, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Anon (November 25, 2011). "Dogs, owners get downward with doga". The Tico Times. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  6. ^ Anon (June 21, 2019). "International Yoga Day: Aww! Adorable Army dogs join in on Yoga Day celebrations; check out pics". BusinessToday.In. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  7. ^ Internicola, Dorene (August 1, 2011). "Who let the dogs in the yoga class?". Reuters. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  8. ^ Gagnon, Jilly (April 24, 2014). "Dog Yoga". Newsweek. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  9. ^ Brilliant, Jennifer; Berloni, William (2003). Doga: Yoga for Dogs. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-811-84167-2.
  10. ^ a b Anon (January 25, 2004). "Dogs 'need' yoga too". ABC News. Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c Gowing, Elizabeth (2019). Unlikely Positions (in Unlikely Places) : a Yoga Journey Around Britain. England: Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 78–84. ISBN 978-1-78477-640-4. OCLC 1061309216.
  12. ^ a b Chisholm, Anna (October 2, 2011). "Dog yoga, or doga, is latest fad to calm rowdy canines". The Sunday Mail. Queensland.
  13. ^ Dufresne Cyr, Gaby (2014). "Doga Classes". Archived from the original on March 13, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Lyttle, B. (April 8, 2009). "Bonding With Their Downward-Facing Humans". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  15. ^ Briney, Katie (September 14, 2011). "What is Doga?". Archived from the original on July 30, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Winkle, Melissa Y., ed. (2013) [2012]. Professional Applications of Animal Assisted Interventions: Dogwood Doga (2nd ed.). Albuquerque, New Mexico: Dogwood Therapy Services. pp. 1–2.
  17. ^ "Dogs doing yoga? Must be Sweden's economy overheating". The New York Times. May 24, 2007. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2017.

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