The world of yoga is always growing, with more styles and variations than you can shake a stick at.
Yep, we’re talking yoga with real-life puppies.
While puppy yoga remains a relatively small discipline, its popularity is growing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to roll around with puppies and call it exercise?
Yet despite its growing following, some people aren’t as paw-sitive (sorry, couldn’t help it!) as others about practising yoga with pups – arguing that it’s more problematic than the cute name would have you think.
Then keep reading, as in this article, we’ll walk you through:
- What is puppy yoga?
- What are the rules of puppy yoga?
- Who can do puppy yoga and where?
- Where do they get the puppies for puppy yoga?
- What are the benefits of puppy yoga?
- The controversies of puppy yoga.
Let’s jump in!
What is puppy yoga?
No, we’re not teasing you. As the name suggests, puppy yoga is the practice of performing yoga poses and sequences in a room filled with puppies – normally less than 14 weeks old!
As the yoga instructor guides you through the various postures and breathing work, there’ll be puppies running around, playing with each other, curling up next to you and much much more cuteness.
In fact, sometimes these puppies will actually be incorporated into the poses. Yep, we’re talking corpse pose with puppies in your chest, lotus pose with a fluff ball in your lap and seated forward bends embracing your new little friend.
what are the rules of puppy yoga?
There are no universal rules to puppy yoga, but each organiser will likely have their own set of terms and conditions you have to check out and agree to before you attend a class.
These often include the age requirements, feeding, puppy handling rules and even terms of good vibe policies!
As well as this, they normally include reminders of what and what not to bring to the class.
Puppies are cute but also have a habit of chewing, peeing and pooing on things – so it’s advisable not to bring any precious personal possessions. In fact, most studios will provide everything that you need for the class like mats and any props.
Who can do puppy yoga and where?
As a general rule of thumb, all those aged 6 and over are allowed to attend puppy yoga, however, those between 6 and 16 will have to be accompanied by an adult.
While in general, age is the only factor restricting attendees, each individual organiser will have their own terms. For example, immunosuppressed persons or persons with violent criminal convictions may not be permitted to join the classes.
It’s also not normally allowed to bring your own dog or any other animals into the class.
As for where you can do puppy yoga, it’s best to search online for classes near you.
Yoga with pups is still quite small, so you may have to travel to find the closest class – and be sure to book early as the tickets sell out fast!
Where do they get the puppies for puppy yoga?
This is something that is asked a lot but can be difficult to get definitive answers to.
In general, the puppies tend to come from three main sources: breeders, private owners of pups or animal shelters.
The majority of organisers advertise as working closely with breeders, who provide their puppies in the interim between the puppies birth and the time they are sent to their new homes.
However, it’s also common for the puppies to be donated for the day by animal shelters, in the hope that the puppies will be adopted and find new homes with the people they meet in the class.
Also not uncommon is for the puppies to be provided by private owners, who lend their dog for the day while they are at work or off doing duties as a kind of doggy daycare alternative.
What are the benefits of puppy yoga?
Now you know what it is and where you can do it, time to learn about the benefits of puppy yoga.
#1: Eases stress and anxiety.
It’s hard to know what to expect from puppy yoga – but one thing you can expect is to leave feeling uplifted and full of love.
Yoga is already documented as having amazing benefits for relieving stress, anxiety and improving your overall mental health.
This positive effect has even been shown to foster permanent improvements to your memory, concentration and other cognitive functions!
Adding puppies only amplifies this relaxing and feel-good power of yoga practice, improving feelings of confidence, positivity and being carefree.
It’s also great for combatting feelings of loneliness or isolation, as the company of puppies and the conversation starter they offer with your fellow classmates provides the perfect environment to develop new friendships.
#2: Good for your physical health.
As well as being good for your mental health, practising yoga with puppies is also great for your physical health.
Yoga is known for its incredible physical benefits – from building strength to improving balance to developing your cardiovascular system.
For safety reasons, puppy yoga tends to focus on more restorative poses focused on breathing work and stretching that don’t require too much strength or balance. This makes it great for lowering your heart rate, developing flexibility and learning breathing techniques.
Even better still, because puppies make the exercise experience so enjoyable, it means you’re motivated to keep coming back and practising yoga!
So, even though puppy yoga is not as strenuous as other yoga styles such as Bikram or vinyasa, it still offers great benefits for your physical health and wellbeing!
#3: Good for the puppies!
As will be discussed below, this one is a little debated.
However, there have been academic studies that show that socialising with multiple people and other dogs is good for the puppies’ development and wellbeing.
Additionally, as some are donated by breeders or animal shelters, it gives the pups extra opportunities to find good loving homes.
The controversies of puppy yoga.
Despite its benefits and growing popularity, puppy yoga is also sparking criticism and controversy.
#1: Puppy Sourcing and Welfare.
While each puppy yoga organiser pledges to have the welfare of the pups as their highest priority, many people question the truth of such promises.
Their arguments revolve around the moral issues of professional breeding and puppy farms; as well as worries that in most businesses, income is the top priority needed for the company’s survival, sidelining the welfare of the pups.
Another common complaint is that many puppies in the classes are too young to have had all the necessary jabs and to have developed a strong immune system. This means socialising with lots of humans and pups could put them at risk of illness.
#2: Undermines Sanctity of Yoga.
The second criticism levelled at yoga with puppies is by those that believe that the practice detracts and cheapens the spirituality and healing science behind traditional yoga.
Yoga is a deep mind-body exercise that requires focus, introspection and the mindful union of breath and movement to understand and reap the benefits.
Critics argue that puppy yoga is a commercialised ‘fad’ that appropriates the reputation of yoga while disregarding the true spirituality of the yogic tradition.
The fact that attendees are encouraged to bring their phones to take pictures and post to social media instead of focusing on the inner self, they argue, is a case in point.
#3: Accessibility and Wealth Discrimination.
Another controversy surrounding yoga with puppies is wealth discrimination.
You can expect to pay between $30-$50 or more to attend a puppy yoga class – whereas regular yoga classes cost on average $10 and can even be done for free at community centres or from the comfort of your own home.
Putting such a high price on the classes makes experiencing puppy yoga impossible for low earners and lower-income households.
This inaccessibility leads to wealth discrimination as only those with a considerable disposable income can enjoy and benefit from yoga with puppies. Many argue this is the opposite of the true spirit of yoga, which is about inclusivity and equality.
Puppy yoga is growing in popularity, but not without controversy regarding the animal’s welfare and the integrity of yoga practice.
If it’s something you want to try, do your research and make sure the animals are well looked after and that it’s the kind of organisation you’re comfortable supporting.
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