What It Is: Dog Yoga (Doga) with Lance Bass at The DEN Meditation in Los Angeles
Who Tried It: Nicole Sands, PEOPLE Writer-Reporter
Level of Difficulty: 3/10 (Rate it higher or lower based on how well your animal is participating! Or how well you’re participating, for that matter, given you’re in a room full of dogs you can’t help but want to pet and love.)
“You’re invited to a dog…” — that’s how every great story starts, and that’s definitely all someone needs to say to pet-tentially get me to attend any sort of event. However, this time I decided to read a little further into the email to discover I had been summoned for a workout class involving my favorite furry four-legged friends — a dog yoga class! But let’s just call it “doga” for short. While I didn’t have my own dog to bring along with me to class, you can see I was able to weasel my way into “adopting” another attendee’s for an hour (see me above on the left, living my best life).
Listen, we all (yes, both humans and furry friends) love long walks on the beach at sunset, but why not change it up a little and lunge on into the yoga studio for some much-needed bonding time after a long day at work — or a long day sitting at home stressing about when your human will arrive back home to scratch your belly. Doga is an exercise both you and your pooch will benefit from because not only will it improve your posture and allow you to sleep more soundly, but your pup will benefit from increased circulation and the time spent bonding with his/her dearest human.
Now, if you want to find doga in your city, you’re going to have to do a bit of Googling. Sadly, The DEN Meditation doesn’t typically host doga classes (though they do have the most aesthetically pleasing studio and lead some of the best yoga classes in Los Angeles!), but this one-time special event was hosted by Lance Bass (with his adorable new pups Chip and Dale in tow) and Natural Balance pet food to celebrate the release of Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Formulas.
The class was led by certified yoga instructor and founder of Doga Alchemy Stephanie Kang and her perfect pup, Daisy. The dynamic duo demonstrated poses like downward dog (I know, a classic), wheelbarrow (the human picks up the dog’s hind legs to encourage it to stretch its torso), inner dog mudra (the human rests her forehead on her dog’s forehead, connecting the energy of the minds) and, lastly, savasana (the dog lays on its back and the human rubs its belly — obviously, a dog favorite!).
“Doga gives dogs the chance to see that unconditional love that they give us and to get that undivided attention,” Kang tells PEOPLE. “A lot of times they’re left home, so the fact that they get to come with you and be in your presence is enough for them.”
And aside from poses, humans also give their dogs acupressure massages, balancing their minds and healing any pain, which Kang likes to refer to as “honoring your dog’s body.”
Dog yoga was the perfect activity to strengthen your bond with your four-legged friend! It wasn’t as ruff as your typical yoga class, but maybe it was because I was more focused on rallying all the dogs into my arms than actually striking the moves. I can paw-sitively say that downward dog will never be the same without a dog.
When I fur-st arrived to the studio, it was very loud — people greeting the other class attendees, and dogs barking away getting to know one other. Immediately upon stepping into the tranquil yoga studio, it was almost as if a slight spell was placed on the dogs, as they followed their humans to the yoga mats, sat down beside them and waited for class to start. Between the mellowness of the crowd and the warm vibe in the room, there wasn’t a bark or a growl to be heard. Can you say #zen? From Pugs to Poodles and St. Bernards to Mini Australian Shepherds, I graciously thanked the dogs moms and dads for sharing their furry babies with me because, after all, it would have been im-paw-sible without them!