As we all rocked back into child pose, the instructor asked us to take a deep breath and then slowly exhale. While we held the pose for a few moments, she urged us to be still and listen: it was quiet, absolutely silent.
Normally, this wouldn’t be something to take note of during a yoga class. Tranquility and peace are typical during a 40-minute session. But this class was anything but typical.
Thirty-two dogs and their owners showed up at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday afternoon to see what exercising with their pets could look like. While the temperature in Dallas reached its first 100-degree day of the year, the dogs and their owners were cool and confident inside on their mats. There were all breeds and sizes — from terriers and schnauzers to poodles and Labs. The dogs were separated into big and small. While their owners did tree poses and said, “Om,” the dogs laid on the mats, tried to sniff each other, or, in a few cases, rolled around and practiced their own version of Downward Dog.
Terri Arends, the group exercise director and member services coordinator at the JCC, was the mastermind of the class. She circled the room, handing out treats and loving on the dogs. There were a couple questions about what dog yoga would entail. Would dogs behave? Would owners be able to do poses with a leash in hand? What is dog yoga?
At one point, a big dog barked at another big dog, which caused 30 seconds of typical dog behavior, and then, they all settled down again. Arends explained that our calm demeanor was traveling down the leashes to our pets, which is why practicing yoga with pets is beneficial for both dogs and owners. The dogs were also helpful during the planks, focusing on them detracted from our shaky legs. As we all settled in for one last stretch, my dog finally discovered the treat I’d hidden away just in case. She munched on her treat, the dog next to us licked her mom, and we all worked on our posture. Tranquil, indeed.
Arends plans to do another class in the fall. Be on the lookout for details.