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