A dog is much more than a pet.
They are best friends; they are our babies, and they can also be our yoga teachers.
I remember the day I got my current dog, Sophie, as if it were yesterday. They say our dogs pick us and nothing was truer that day when this ball of pure fluff came bounding right up to me and knocked me over as I squatted in the grass. I was 21 when we got Sophie and now nearly a decade later, she has been with me through it all.
Sophie saw me through multiple jobs and a life-changing career shift. She has been with me through breakups and make-ups. She licked the tears from my face after my Mom passed away. She lies on the floor of the bathroom with me when I am unwell. She jumps around in excitement when I receive good news. She keeps me warm at night and greets me excitedly every morning. Sophie is the longest relationship I have ever had and the one I have learned the most from.
My dog teaches me presence. A limited short-term memory allows dogs to be totally in the moment at all times. Coming home after a long day of teaching yoga, my to-do list piling up, I often find myself on the computer right away or still buried in the phone finishing a text message. However, as Sophie’s doe eyes look up at me, I am reminded that in that moment, I need to be with her fully and attentively. I should not be absentmindedly rubbing her belly, while multitasking 10 different things. I owe her the same pure attention and utter absorption that she gives me.
My dog teaches me patience. Sophie is no Cujo nor Marley, but neither is she saintly. Yet regardless of the type of day I have had or how poorly I may feel, when my dog misbehaves, I cannot just get angry. Dogs do not know better, until they are taught. When we lash out in reaction, we are not teaching, we are merely punishing. Like every relationship, we must first breathe and find the space before the response and then act rather than react.
My dog has taught me unconditional love. No matter where you are in your life, rich or poor, healthy or ill, up or down, your dog will be right by your side loving you endlessly. Sophie really has been through it all with me. It is in an incredible feeling to know that something loves you no matter what and it then allows us to truly and unconditionally love those around us.
The lessons we learn from our animals can be so much more powerful than any asana or shape we make with our body, and in that way, the greatest yoga teacher I have ever had is my dog.
Editor: Brianna Bemel