The downward dog now has whole new meaning. K9-Connection, the dog-friendly event provider known for its Wine and Wag and Beer With Your Buddy gatherings, has dipped its tail in the world of yoga, or doga as it’s called, for about the past year.
Angie Gwiazdon, owner and founder of K9-Connection, kick-started her organization about two-and-a-half years ago. She wanted to mesh her event-planning skills with her passion for bringing people and their dogs together, because she saw, and knew firsthand, the benefit canines have on their owners.
Gwiazdon says, “People are usually in a good mood when they are with their dogs. They are more relaxed and at ease. And I felt it was a missing piece to the Twin Cites, because there are so many dog lovers here.”
K9-Connection events typically revolve around anything social, such as its off-the-leash doggy happy hours, and doga is no different.
The idea came to Gwiazdon about a year-and-a-half ago, while she was taking part in a mommy and me yoga class with her two-month-old daughter, Addison. She translated that concept into dog and owner yoga classes. After doing a bit of research, she discovered the idea already had taken root in cities across the country.
Gwiazdon, who owns a 10-year-old blue tick coon hound rescue dog named Belle, asked friends who already were instructors if they would try it, and they agreed. For the past year, the event has continued to gain speed, especially selling out classes in the colder months.
According to Gwiazdon, “People love it. It’s been great. People who have done it talk about doing yoga at home, and having their dog get in the way and be a distraction. This class teaches you how you can incorporate your dog into it, and that is very helpful.”
Apart from having the ability to be fully focused during your yoga routine, Gwiazdon has seen how the classes impact the dogs and their owners in a different manner.
Gwiazdon explains, “It’s really interesting to observe that, typically, when the class starts, the dogs might be a little anxious and a bit more rambunctious, but by the end of the class, they are all so calm. Dogs really pick up on our emotions and spirit, and it’s a good bonding experience, too.”
Doga attempts to intertwine both dog and owner in a series of combination stretches and massages. While the dogs themselves may not participate in every yoga pose, the dogs always are kept close by.
Gwiazdon remarks, “I think it is a really growing in popularity because there are an awful lot of dog owners and a real need for events that are like mine. I’m a small business, and everything has been word of mouth, but most of my events sell out, and when people find out about them, they are so excited. It’s been really successful and a lot of fun.”
For more information about doga and K9-Connection, visit www.k9-connection.com.