10 Proven Ways Doga Helps HSPs: Unpacking Dog Yoga

There is a new kid on the yoga block that offers huge benefits to highly sensitive people: Dog Yoga or doga. Today, I break down 10 proven ways doga helps HSPs in particular.


Katie Abendroth

3/1/20245 min read

10 Proven Ways Dog Yoga Helps Empaths and HSPs

There is a new kid on the yoga block that offers huge benefits to highly sensitive people: Dog Yoga or doga. Today, I break down 10 proven ways doga helps HSPs in particular.

What is Doga?

Dog yoga or “doga” is a modern variation of ancient practices, where dogs are worked into yoga sessions. Several years ago, I saw this calendar in a store and thought dogs + yoga would be a great idea. So I am so happy people have started to implement it!

Doga helps a highly sensitive person in countless ways. Below, I describe 10 proven benefits of doga for HSPs.

Doga helps HSPs?

You can train your own pup to do doga with you, which can take 3-6 months. But if they are not into it (my dog only bites at my hair when I let him on the mat), don’t force it.

However, there are community options available like this clip below, with local puppies that can brighten your day instead.

Sound like it might be a great fit for you? Here are 10 ways benefits of dog yoga. If you are an empath or an HSP, there are specific reasons doga helps a highly sensitive person.

Let’s dive in:

1. Lowers Cortisol Levels

Through gentle movements and deep breathing exercises, doga promotes relaxation and tranquility. Both yoga and dogs lower the stress hormone level, cortisol, so combining both in a safe environment is win-win.

Doga provides a comforting environment to unwind and connect with your own pet. In a public setting, it helps you connect with like-minded dog lovers. This fosters a sense of community and connection.

Doga as a stress management tool enhances overall mental health and strengthens the bond between you and your pets. Both lower cortisol levels. Engaging in doga regularly can be beneficial, offering stress and anxiety reduction in a supportive atmosphere.

2. Doga Helps HSPs by Reducing Inhibition

If you are new to the yoga world, you know how intimidating it can be. For a highly sensitive person, who tends to overthink interactions and avoid new stressors, doga can be just the ice breaker you need.

I previously wrote about the emotional support that dogs offer HSPs. The presence of dogs in a community yoga studio distracts everyone from cringey small talk or self-criticism.

After all, a puppy curling up next to you is not critiquing your form. Dogs do not care if you have lulu lemon leggings. They are the ultimate zen master.

3. Makes you Smile

Highly sensitive people and empaths tend to be ardent dog lovers. This means that dogs naturally bring you joy in connection. Additionally, smiling tells your brain to feel happy, triggering lower stress levels and lifting your mood.

Chances are if you choose a public doga session, there are other people in the room who are a lot like you. Doga helps HSPs by improving the holistic experience of yoga, creating positive mind and body associations for your day.

4. Socialization

Doga is a great socialization option for you and your dog. If you can bring your own friendly pet to the session, they can meet other pups while you meet local dog owners. If it is you and your dog practicing doga from home, they still get used to being handled. This is a wonderful way to desensitize them for grooming.

For a highly sensitive person, it can be hard to make friends. If dog parks are too stressful or you or your dog, a yoga studio might have the perfect calming vibe you seek.

HSPs and empaths process emotions strongly, so the tranquility of doga helps HSPs remain in a great frame of mind for the whole day.

5. Positivity

Dogs are the ultimate non-judgemental companion. Except for the occasional side-eye, dogs are happy when you are happy. They are not critiquing your form, overthinking your conversation topics, or judging your appearance.

Some yoga studios can be intimidating or overly serious to newbies. After one experience that left me in tears, I swore not to return to studios that catered to “yoga b*tches.”

However, a dog changes the whole dynamic for the better. And if the public studio is too overwhelming for you, start at home. My favorite home yoga option is Yoga with Adriene, who often features her dog Benji.

Dogs and yoga both increase your positivity due to the holistic connection- improving mind, body and spirit. When these three areas of health align, you are going to achieve maximum wellness.

6. Improved Dog Health

Speaking of holistic connections, doga benefits your dog as well. Doga helps HSPs increase flexibility and joint health, but it also helps your dog’s joints.

Doga also lowers circulation and increases their range of motion. It makes sense that yoga mimics common dog stretches. The famous downward dog and child’s pose both are natural morning stretches for most dogs.

For puppies, doga is also a fantastic socialization option that is less stressful than a dog park.

7. Doga Helps HSPs through Bonding

Connecting with your pet in a social or home setting increases the bond between you. Dogs want nothing more than to spend quality time with people.

Doga sessions offer a means to get out in the community or connect with your dog at home.

For humans, touch lowers stress levels. For anxious dogs, doga yoga sessions can be a great fit for bonding with their owners and socializing with other dogs.

8. Lowers Stimulation

Yoga increases mindfulness and is especially beneficial to a highly sensitive person. My dog often lays in “shavasana” or on his back, in total relaxation.

The sensory experience of a yoga studio is naturally calming, from incense, relaxing music, light wood paneling, and streaming sunlight.

This is one reason I encourage HSPs to go to a public yoga studio, rather than staying in their own home, if at all possible.

9. Immune System Boost

Yoga and dogs boost your immune system. So, pet ownerships offers a 1, 2 punch of immune boosting benefits: lowering stress while increasing your tolerance to allergens. Research shows that dog owners have live longer and have fewer allergies and less eczema.

Additionally, yoga boosts your immune system. Yoga reduces chronic inflammation to such a great extent that people see measurable immune system benefits with regular practice.

Thus, it makes sense that combining dogs and yoga together are a terrific option for your physical health.

10. Doga Helps HSPs by Calming “Monkey Mind”

What is monkey mind in yoga? It is “the uncontrollable, unsettled, whimsical, wild nature of our flow of thoughts and the way in which our focus can easily be distracted” described in more detail here.

However, we can learn a lot from dogs. They are the ultimate example of living in the present.

Having a calm dog, or a few puppies, around helps us slow down our own monkey mind. Yet, a highly sensitive person (HSP) often has sensory processing sensitivity which can lead to racing, distracted thoughts.

The benefit of doga is that the calming (or humorous) presence of dogs distracts you enough to settle into a meditative state.

Common Sense Precautions

We’ve looked at the many ways doga helps HSPs and empaths, but there are common sense precautions you should consider.

Be realistic about your dog’s temperament. If your dog is highly reactive, anxious, or has not been properly socialized, it would be better to practice doga at home rather than a community studio.

Keep sessions short at first, so your dog can adjust to the experience. Allow your dog, or any dog present, to rest or walk around without forcing specific positions.

Do not bring treats to a public session, as dogs can get protective or fight over them.

Finally, do not stick your face in a dog’s face, ever. Even a familiar dog, in an unfamiliar setting, can snap at someone if they feel uncomfortable.

Respect their space and position yourself to the side of new dogs so they don’t feel threatened.

What to Bring to Dog Yoga

Bringing the right supplies to doga will set you up for success. Check these out to get started.

  • Extra Wide Yoga Mat

  • Dog Water Bottle

  • Microfiber Towel

  • Hand Sanitizer

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