Downward dog and upward dog take on entirely new meanings when you perform the poses…with your dog. That’s just one of the ways the health mecca of Naples, Florida, is pioneering the trend of “animal yoga.”
By now, you may have heard that Naples, Florida is a bit of a health and wellness mecca (see our post 10 Ways to Vacation Healthy in Naples to learn more). But the healthy pastimes go beyond just mere mediation, spa outings, and healthy eating. It seems there is a novel trend sweeping the yoga studios of Naples, known as animal yoga, which places yogis practicing their poses among different animals – think cats, dogs, goats, and even zoo wildlife. Here’s where to experience this new form of zen and the benefits during your next visit.
Offered by Barbara King at her Tamiami Trail-based BKS Yoga Studio, Dog Yoga – or just “doga” – allows you to perform the poses with your pet in private sessions (Edgewater Beach Hotel is a participating hotel in the Opal Paws program, giving guests traveling with furry companions the VIP treatment). “This allows clients to have deeper connections with their dogs,” she says, “while still getting a workout; it’s very funny and a lot of fun.” By the end of class, reports King, the dogs are so calm that they fall asleep.
On a small farm in Lehigh Acres (about an hour outside of Naples), Jenna Love has been teaching Barnyard Yoga for nearly two years, matching Nigerian Dwarf, Nubian, and Boar goats with practitioners for a comical series of poses. Unlike dog yoga in which the clients interact with their dogs, the goats roam wherever they please, head-butting and jumping and licking yogis and yoginis. The humorous aspect of the class enhances yoga by lowering blood pressure, releasing stress and lifting spirits.
A Purr-fect Practice
Talk about a cat pose. At Domestic Animal Services of Collier County, visitors can practice kitten yoga with some of the feline friends sheltered there. The kittens wait in crates while class members unroll their mats, and once everyone’s begun to stretch out, the class leader opens the crates to allow the animals to wander around the room. You can stroke the kittens to help attain mindfulness (being mindful to be gentle) – and maybe even take your partner home thanks to adoption papers.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
If you’ve ever practiced lion’s breath in yoga, you’ll love this twist on twisted triangles and other poses: Zoo Yoga at the Naples Zoo, led by instructor Lauren Fox, the director of Donation Yoga. Unlike kitten yoga, the wild animals stay safely in their cages (phew) while you do sun salutations, warrior poses, and shavasana surrounded by palm trees, cypress trees, and other Florida flora.
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