Stress affects us all and it isn't something we can entirely avoid. We all resort to different methods to escape it. While some prefer to spend time with their pets, others indulge in fitness activities like yoga. But have you ever thought of actually combining the two things and exercise your way to a stress-free life? One such way is combining yoga and dogs. Kochi-based life trainer Sudakshna Thambi, to popularise the technique, has started beach yoga in Cherai, and participants can bring their beloved pets along.
“Animals are very simple minded; they live in the present moment and are very connected to nature. Therefore, animals naturally have a great energy about them. In many cases, therapy dogs are most effective in helping those with autism or those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I have been thinking about ‘doga’ sessions, thanks to my pet dog Choco. Choco is highly intelligent and very calm. Even when he was a pup, he used to come and sit very close to me during my meditations and prayers. His presence is very soothing. So, I had the idea of doing beach yoga along with him,” says Sudakshna.
“I take Choco for outings as much as I can, and came across this beautiful Cafe called Chilliout that also serves those who have brought their pet with them to the beach. As we sat there that evening, I realised how beautiful and perfect the place is for meditation post-sunset when the crowd has disappeared. Once the sun sets, there's the wind — streams of hot and cold air on your skin. The different smells that come to your attention. The salty taste of the wind. The smooth silky sand on your skin. The song of the waves, the moon, and stars that shine down. It was a treat for the senses and perfect for meditation.”
She is working on ‘Indriya meditation’, which brings keen awareness to our senses. With Choco’s calm presence strengthening the meditation, the experience was something new and interesting. “I had to share this experience with my students. And thus the idea of meditation on the beach with your pet was born. And I decided to choose Indriya meditation for this. The practice of Indriya meditation sharpens your senses and teaches you to accept everything in a nonjudgmental way. It teaches you to watch and observe without judging or categorising or getting involved. It is a powerful practice when done regularly.”
“Yoga is gaining more and more popularity,” Sudakshna says. “Yoga is the union of the individual soul with the supreme soul. The eight parts of yoga together is the art and science of keeping the mind silent, because it is in this silence and stillness that we may perceive the divine within us. Why is it important to keep your mind silent? Because our minds are constantly chattering through the day without any control; we have close to 80000 thoughts a day, most of which we are unaware of. And these thoughts may be negative, causing anxiety, stress, depression, anger, etc. In dhyan, we watch our minds as an observer without getting attached to the thoughts. Dhyan, simply said, is a process of maintaining the flow of attention or focus.”
Yoga with a dog or ‘doga’ is already a hit in the West. Doga has been getting good response in our part of the world, too, and people find it reasonable. “I put out an invite to my students and friends, and we got an overwhelming response considering that it was on an evening, during a weekday, in Cherai, which is easily an hour's drive from Kochi. Yet, it was so wonderful to see pet parents and those who just love animals showing up and joining me on this experience. It is very good to have such likeminded people around, who share the same vibe; and this is our tribe,” she wraps up.