Doga was invented in 2012 by the Swiss-Iranian yoga teacher Mahny Djahanguiri. An avid animal-lover, who discovered yoga in 1999, she credits doga with bringing stress-relief to both owner and pet.
“Doga is a human yoga practice that helps support the natural bond we have with our dog.” says Mahny.
And one celebrity to climb aboard the latest yoga craze is Alexandra Burke, 29, pop star and Strictly Come Dancing finalist last year.
Alexandra got engaged to her boyfriend of two years, Josh Ginnelly, in Paris last December, and plans to prepare for big day with a mixture of exercise, including doga.
Alexandra has three pet dogs, Alfie, Prince and Teddy, who she takes with her to doga classes. “My dogs absolutely love it”, says Alexandra, “which is a huge motivation to keep going. Seeing my dogs happy makes me happy, so it’s a win-win for all of us.”
Fans of doga are encouraged to bring their pets to the class and let them off the lead. There’s no pressure for dogs to behave – they can copy their owners, they can be used as weights, or fall asleep on the mat.
Doga inventor Mahny says, “I love it when my dog interrupts my yoga because he reminds me that I mustn’t be so uptight about getting the poses right.” The classes encourage a sense of fun and bonding between owner and pet.
In terms of her wedding, Alexandra admits that she hasn’t got very far with the planning stage- “I haven’t even thought about the wedding yet! I’ll keep up with my exercise regime because I’ve got a lot of work to do this year.”
Alexandra is certainly keeping busy, currently on tour with the Strictly gang, and later hitting the road with her The Truth Is tour.
She has had a hard time recently, as she suffered online abuse from trolls during the Strictly Come Dancing show last year, who accused her of ‘fake crying’. She also sadly lost her Mum, Melissa Bell, in August of last year.
Alexandra says exercise has helped her deal with the grief. “I think just staying active full stop makes me feel better,” she said. “I do suffer with anxiety quite badly. It has got better over the past couple of years but sometimes it takes its toll and gets worse. Definitely working out, for me personally, is a big help mentally. If I don’t work out I don’t feel like it will be a great day. I always start my day with a workout, no matter where I am.”
Djahanguiri agrees that doga is great for mental health – not only yours, but your dog’s as well: “By releasing any tension, stress or anxiety you automatically help your dog to be more accepting and feel secure to meet other dogs without worrying about you.”
So, for a mental and physical workout with a difference, why not do a downdog with your dog. If you don’t have a dog, borrow a friend’s!
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