Poses with Pets

‘Doga’ com­bines yoga and spend­ing time with four-legged friends

The Boyertown Area Times - - FIT FOR LIFE - By Michilea Pat­ter­son For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia For more in­for­ma­tion about Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive, visit the web­site at www.BlueZenCol­lec­tive.com

Pamela Gormish, a li­censed mas­sage ther­a­pist and owner of Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive in Pottstown, has a very spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with her dog Sailor. They go on walks to­gether, they play to­gether, and they even do yoga to­gether.

The act of do­ing yoga with dogs is of­ten re­ferred to as “doga.” Prac­tic­ing yoga with an­i­mals is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar. There’s yoga with horses and yoga with goats so it’s no sur­prise that peo­ple are also reap­ing the ben­e­fits of yoga with man’s best friend.

“If you look at yoga poses, they’re dog com­mu­ni­ca­tion poses,” Gormish said adding that a com­mon pose is called the “down­ward dog.”

Doga is ba­si­cally a ses­sion where a hu­man and ca­nine com­pan­ion par­tic­i­pate in sev­eral yoga-re­lated prac­tices to­gether such as med­i­ta­tion, stretch­ing, mas­sage, bal­ance and more. When a yoga mat is rolled out, Sailor in­stantly goes to lay on it. The dog also likes to sit by Gormish while she stretches and does yoga poses. Gormish in­volves Sailor in the prac­tice by mas­sag­ing her head or giv­ing kisses. Sailor will even some­times mimic poses that her owner does dur­ing ses­sions.

“Yoga is an op­por­tu­nity to com­pletely trans­form peo­ple emo­tion­ally, spir­i­tu­ally and phys­i­cally,” Gormish said adding that dogs can reap these ben­e­fits as well.

Ac­cord­ing to Petco.com, yoga can en­hance bond­ing be­tween a dog and their owner by cre­at­ing a set­ting that is calm­ing and play­ful at the same time.

Gormish has been bring­ing Sailor, her Amer­i­can Pit Bull Ter­rier, to her wellness stu­dio since Oc­to­ber. The wellness stu­dio of­fers yoga, mas­sage and mus­cle ther­apy ser­vices by ap­point­ment. She said clients and staff loved hav­ing Sailor around and would even re­quest for the dog when they came in for a class or ses­sion.

“Peo­ple wanted her around and they were dis­ap­pointed if she wasn’t there,” Gormish said. “She just be­came a sta­ple of Blue Zen.”

She said Sailor is an amaz­ing dog and loves be­ing around peo­ple. The pit bull has been with her for five years af­ter she was adopted through an an­i­mal res­cue fa­cil­ity. Gormish said Sailor was un­der­weight and had just mis­car­ried a lit­ter of pup­pies when she came to live with her. When Gormish first brought Sailor home, she kept the dog se­cluded most of the time be­cause she no­ticed peo­ple were ner­vous around the dog since it’s a pit bull.

She said there are sev­eral myths about the pit bull breed and it’s not true that all dogs of this breed are dan­ger­ous and ag­gres­sive. Gormish said when she started to bring Sailor to the stu­dio to be around other peo­ple then they be­gan to see that there are pit bulls that are friendly and that can bring pos­i­tive en­ergy into an en­vi­ron­ment. Gormish has ei­ther fos­tered or res­cued a to­tal of seven pit bulls. “We’ve never had an is­sue,” she said. Gormish said her dog Sailor is her mo­ti­va­tor to use yoga to bring dogs and peo­ple to­gether es­pe­cially res­cue dogs. She ex­plained that Sailor’s early life of be­ing in and out of ken­nels led the dog to be very anx­ious and emo­tional. When her hus­band started trav­el­ing for work, Gormish said Sailor re­sponded by eat­ing the en­tire con­tents of her bed­room and items she could get a hold of such as sup­ple­ments and dis­pos­able ra­zor blades. This was the rea­son Gormish started bring­ing Sailor to the wellness stu­dio and said it ended up be­ing a great idea for all in­volved.

Gormish said res­cue dogs that come from trou­bled en­vi­ron­ments can re­ally ben­e­fit from yoga. She said such dogs have aban­don­ment is­sues or are com­ing from sur­round­ings filled with chaos, so yoga al­lows them to ex­pe­ri­ence a sta­ble and calm­ing at­mos­phere.

“Be­ing able to put them in an en­vi­ron­ment where ev­ery­one in that build­ing is breath­ing calmly and is emo­tion­ally aware is so huge. It’s one of the rea­sons why she (Sailor) loves it. If she’s anx­ious, we come down and do yoga then it slows her down,” Gormish said.

Sailor has such a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the Blue Zen stu­dio that Gormish is start­ing a class se­ries that will be called Res­cue Yoga. She said the classes will ben­e­fit both the peo­ple that at­tend and the res­cue dogs that will be in­cor­po­rated. Gormish said the classes won’t just have pit bulls but will in­cor­po­rate res­cue dogs in gen­eral. Some classes will have pup­pies while other will have just a sin­gle res­cue dog present. Gormish ex­plained that there are dogs in res­cue fa­cil­i­ties that don’t get along with other dogs so it’s hard for such dogs to find a home.

“That’s one of the de­fin­i­tive things that we’re go­ing to be do­ing is hav­ing those sin­gle dogs here and try­ing to in­vite peo­ple that might not have dogs,” she said.

The Res­cue Yoga classes will also be fundrais­ing events that will hope­fully en­cour­age peo­ple to sup­port area res­cue fa­cil­i­ties or even adopt a res­cue dog. The new class se­ries will of­fi­cially be­gin in Jan­uary. The classes will in­cor­po­rate both med­i­ta­tion and yoga. Those in­ter­ested can fol­low Blue Zen on Face­book at www.face­book.com/ bluezen col­lec­tive since the class signups will be avail­able through the page.

There are a va­ri­ety of blogs and pet web­sites with in­for­ma­tion about doga in­clud­ing sug­gested poses that own­ers can do with their ca­nine friend. There’s a sec­tion about get­ting started with doga on the Petco.com web­site which rec­om­mends con­sult­ing with your vet­eri­nar­ian be­fore em­bark­ing on any doga ac­tiv­i­ties.


Pamela Gormish, owner of Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive in Pottstown, does a yoga pose while her dog Sailor looks up at her while at the wellness stu­dio. Gormish said yoga is ben­e­fi­cial to both hu­mans and dogs.

Sailor, an Amer­i­can Pit Bull Ter­rier, looks at the cam­era while she has one leg up touch­ing her owner Pamela Gormish, owner of Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive in Pottstown. Gormish said do­ing yoga with her dog al­lows them to emo­tion­ally connect.

Pamela Gormish, owner of Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive in Pottstown, does a yoga pose while her dog Sailor seems to mimic the po­si­tion while they spend some time at the stu­dio.

Pamela Gormish, owner of Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive in Pottstown, stretches out her leg while her dog Sailor, an Amer­i­can Pit Bull Ter­rier, licks her face at the wellness stu­dio. “Doga” is comb­ing the prac­tice of yoga while spend­ing time with dogs.

Sailor, an Amer­i­can Pit Bull Ter­rier, lays down on a yoga mat while at the Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive in Pottstown. Her owner, Pamela Gormish, said yoga helps Sailor calm down when she’s anx­ious.

Pamela Gormish, owner of Blue Zen Wellness Col­lec­tive in Pottstown, holds a med­i­ta­tion pose while her dog Sailor sits in front of her while the duo spent some time at the wellness space.

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