The Philosophy of Doga by Mahny Djahanguiri

The Philosophy of Doga by Mahny Djahanguiri


Doga is a symbiotic bonding exercise using the ancient tradition of yoga.”

When I’m walking my dog in the park, I sometimes invite fellow dog owners to a complimentary Doga class. They usually shake their heads, smile, and give me one or both of the following replies:

  1. Answer #1: My dog is far too nervous; he’ll never sit still.
  2. Answer #2: I can’t touch my knees, let alone my toes.

What really matters in yoga practice, whether it involves a dog or not, is following the ethical rules or moral commandments of classical yoga, as set out in the Yamas, the first limb of the sage Patanjali’s  Yoga Sutras. These include:


  • Never force your dog to do something he doesn’t want to.
  • During your yoga practice, avoid picking up your dog when he’s asleep or when he’s close to falling asleep – you wouldn’t do that with a child either.
  • Avoid picking him up when he’s restless or wants to wriggle out of your grip.
  • Your dog’s tendons and ligaments (especially around the joints) are extremely sensitive and tender. If your dog weights more than 11 pounds, avoid lifting him under his armpits; always support him with one had under his tailbone and the other around his upper ribcage.
  • Never over-stretch your dog – or yourself.


  • Avoid using dog treats to coax your dog into Doga. This is yoga, not a training session.
  • If a yoga pose is too strenuous and your breath becomes uneven, be truthful with yourself and stop.


  • Avoid taking away your dog’s personal space. If he wanders off into a corner of a room during yoga practice, curls up in a ball and falls asleep, let him be – that’s perfectly OK.
  • The goal of Doga is for your dog to absorb your calm, not to become stressed by the experience.


  • Be happy with what you have achieved today. It doesn’t matter how far you got or which poses you have mastered; the fact that you took the time out of your busy schedule to make space for yourself and your best friend is already an achievement in itself, so well done!

  A Few Practical Points Before You Start

  • Your practice should take place in a quiet environment, so try to make sure you will be undisturbed for at least 45 minutes.
  • Switch off your phone and if you can, your doorbell. Remember, your dog’s nervous system will calm down during your practice and you don’t want the sound of a buzzer to startle him.
  • Practice on an empty stomach. Wait at least two hours after a meal prior to your practice.
  • Before commencing Doga, seek advice from your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.
  • If you suffer from any health conditions yourself of have any injuries, consult your doctor before starting yoga.



Mahny Djahanguiri is the author of Doga: Yoga for You and Your Dog and the creator of, an online resource for people who want to use yoga to bond with their pet.

Leave a comment

Back to Down Dog Blog