Yoga classes to teach your dog downward dog

It’s a new year! Time to resolve to become more centered, to bring more balance into your life, maybe take up  Yoga.  But what  about your dog? Doesn’t your pooch need some centering, too?  That’s where the SPCA in Largo comes in.

PHOTOS: Yoga for dogs

On the fourth  Sunday of each month,  people gather  with their pets in a large airy room and prepare to let go of the stress of the week. But this is no typical doggie play date. This is doggie yoga – or “doga.”

Lisa Recchione is a yoga instructor for humans, but recently, she’s added canines to her list of students.

Doggie yoga is a trend now sweeping the country. It would seem that pooches need to relax and find their inner chi, just like humans do.

“It’s a joint experience. You want to have optimal stress relief for yourself and for the dog. And you want it to be a bonding experience, because yoga is about a connection,” said Recchione.

Just think of the pressure these guys are under every day – cars that go past, thunderstorms, other dogs! But there’s another big stress factor in their lives. Their owners.

“Dogs get stressed a lot, and we’re the cause of it,” said Donna Bainter, a pet behaviorist. “This is something to bring down the stress level of you and your dog, to have some quiet time together. It’s something we don’t practice for ourselves, much less our dogs.”

You won’t find dogs in ‘tree pose,’ exactly, or even in the fashionable ‘downward-facing dog.’ But they do get some good stretching in, and the doggie massage is stellar. And they may even come up with some poses we haven’t seen before.

Consider  Oliver, Lisa Rechionne’s little dog.  He’s a born worrier with a liver condition. He starts the class anxious and ready to rumble. But yoga changes all that. Then there’s Chomp, a ten-year-old Bulldog with an arthritis problem. You can see the enjoyment on Chomp’s face after a few minutes of Doga with his owner. Ah, the benefits of a good yoga partner. Namaste,’ pooches. Namaste.’

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