A cursory look around the yoga world and you easily come into contact with something about animals and yoga. I mean, many many of the poses are named for animals. There is a reason for this. If you have animals in your life, my guess is that you already know why, if you think about it.
Even the common cat and dog are such an inspiration. My cat always does downward dog when he wakes up (which means multiple times a day) and I think most dogs do this, too. I went on a trip to the zoo and most of the animals were exacting asanas that were impressive. The way the giraffes moved solo and around each other just dripped with extra care and attention. This beauty was so obviously about yoga, I was stunned.
Today, I recommend that as you practice yoga, invite the animal in your life to be with you and/or participate. See what happens. My cat actually gets very excited when the yoga mat comes out. I think our animal friends naturally understand what it is we are doing. They can teach us a lot about play, intuition, and non-judgement while on the mat. It may be non-traditional for you to bring Spot along, but he may actually enrich your practice. If you don’t have an animal companion to practice with, perhaps you can find some animal yoga online and see what inspiration you can draw.
I had a client once who, when I recommended she practice with her dogs, told me this was very difficult for her because the dogs would knock her down. Starting your yoga time with your animal friends may mean taking the beginning of the practice to calm and bring your awareness, not just to what you are doing, but also to your animal friend. I would suggest that if you have multiple animals, you may find it easier to work one-on-one with them rather than the whole group. Play with it and see what happens.
If you are fortunate, you may live in or near a city where they have yoga classes with dogs. If you are a dog lover, I would love to hear if you check this out, what your experience is like.
Perhaps you own a non-traditional pet, like a snake, or the fish in your life would not really be amenable to getting on the mat with you. You can still bring these pets into the room and pay attention to them during your practice. Look up the stories behind the poses with your animals’ names to get a glimpse of how these treasured creatures influenced yoga. The story of Matyasana, Fish pose, is particularly important in yoga, as it goes back to the founding of yoga itself. Many versions of the story seem to be Hindu versions of the story of Noah and the flood. The way that I learned it, it is also about the importance of the student and teacher relationship, even how the teacher is really within you. All this from a fish. Pretty cool!
Maybe you have already had brief encounters with animals who have taught you beautiful lessons about how to stretch, honoring and caring for your body, or just plain acceptance. It would be lovely to gather some of them here.
Yoga Pose of the Day: Happy Baby Pose
Yogic Concept of the Day: What can I learn, share from my animal friends as I practice yoga today?