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Fall puppy photograph Golden Colorado
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Down Dog

by Kris Phillips
Katrina Durocher

Katrina Durocher

For most of my life I practiced Yoga with little commitment until 3 years ago when a car accident ruptured 2 discs in my back. During my recovery I followed doctor’s orders and went to the chiropractor three times a week. That got me functional, but not happy or pain free. With the gentle nudging of my big sister Katrina, who teaches Yoga in LA, I found a Yoga class that was close enough to home and gentle enough to work for me. For the next year I was completely committed, almost never missing a class and I am so grateful to Tera out in Sedona for helping me heal.

Grey Spirit demonstrating a play bow

Grey Spirit demonstrating a play bow

On arrival in Denver things got a little more tricky. I have tried a few classes out but haven’t found one that works for me just yet. So I decided to start practicing in my living room. If you have ever tried to practice Yoga at home with pets in the vicinity you probably know exactly the experience I had. My otherwise disinterested pets suddenly form static cling. Apparently my version of “downward dog” looks to Swota like a play bow. She mirrors me, which is cute until I feel a big paw smack me in the back of the head. I shew her off and move on to “plank” only to have Silhouette (the cat) criss-crossing under me before flopping down on my mat right under my chest. No sooner do I sweep her off then I see Yukon to my side belly-crawling closer and closer hoping for attention. So much for calm & inner peace! Exasperated and grumbling I gave up, rolled up my mat and went about my life. A few days later I tried again, this time hiding in the bed room where none of the pets happened to be. Within minutes it was the same experience.

A few days later I shared the experience with my sister, mostly as an excuse for why I hadn’t been practicing. As usual her wisdom for all things Yoga got me rethinking my approach. She teaches a lot of private Yoga sessions which means going to clients homes, clients who often have pets. She told me about one client who’s big Lab had developed his own yoga practice. He would come join them and enjoy a relaxing massage from Katrina while she led his owners practice. I also started thinking about things from my pets perspective. Most of the time I am on two legs, sitting on a chair, generally above them. When I join them on the floor they are simply welcoming me to their space. And truthfully “downward facing dog” looks an awful lot like a play bow. How exciting it must be for them to have me initiate the play!

Once I really thought about it I understood what had the dogs pawing at me. But what about the cats? They share the same space I do. Always on the bed, counter and table tops. Frequently even up on high shelves. What about my Yoga practice brings them clear in from the other room? My peaceful energy is the best guess I have. I’ll be the first to admit I have a high energy personality, occasionally prone to stress and tension. But when I roll out my mat and take a few deep breaths, that melts away. I become an energy my cats want to be around. So with a little perspective I realized that the animals weren’t trying to sabotage my practice, they were trying to join it. So now I focus on flowing around and with them. If there is a cat laying under me I may hold my pose a little longer. If Swota greets my “down-dog” with a smack to the back of the head, I laugh instead of grumble and roll her over with a good belly scratch. After all one of the many things we are supposed to learn from Yoga is to not take ourselves so seriously.


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