puppy on lap during yoga session

Feeling Stressed? Try Puppy Yoga for a Joyful, Furry Fix!

Yoga has become the ultimate self-care ritual for millions seeking mindfulness, flexibility and balance in their busy lives. Yet sometimes even downward dog can’t compete with life’s nonstop worries. Enter the latest stress-busting twist on this ancient practice: puppy yoga!

This heartwarming hybrid pairs cute, cuddly puppies with classic yoga flows and poses for double the mood-boosting power. The idea originated at animal shelters, with the dual goal of socializing rambunctious pups for adoption while providing furry, tail-wagging therapy for volunteers.


A cute gray puppy on the floor in front of a yoga mat

I. What is Puppy Yoga?

Puppy yoga involves participating in a typical yoga class, holding poses and flowing through sequences, while puppies roam freely and interact with students. The sessions allow the puppies to gain confidence and acclimatize to human contact, smells, and sounds.

For students, puppy yoga allows you to combine the comforting joy of playing with puppies while holding yoga postures and practicing breathing techniques. The ultimate multi-tasking wellness experience!

Sessions range from 30 to 90 minutes and provide all the equipment needed, including yoga mats, blankets, treats for puppies, and freshly laundered towels between classes.

A.    The Popularity of Puppy Yoga Skyrockets

While yoga has been mainstream for awhile, the advent of puppy yoga is causing a surge in excitement and attendance at yoga studios offering this class format.

We have waiting lists for our puppy yoga sessions,” says Geetanjali Wadhera, founder of PawPals Puppy Yoga in Toronto.
Students keep coming back because it’s such a mood lifter to play with a puppy while practicing self-care on your mat. The popularity just continues to grow."

Indeed, puppy yoga is becoming a popular self-care offering across the wellness tourism industry as well. Many retreat centers and yoga resorts now advertise weekend sessions of puppy yoga to attract visitors.

With hectic modern lifestyles, the opportunity to stop and smell the puppies is strong enticement!


young lady playing with dashchund puupy on yoga mat

II. The Benefits of Combining Puppies and Yoga

The beauty of puppy yoga is the numerous benefits derived from both yoga and puppy playtime. Let’s explore how this combo class is ideal for your physical and mental well-being.

A.    Physical Benefits

Holding yoga poses while puppies climb on you creates light resistance for increased flexibility. The laughter elicited from puppy kisses and puppy breath in your face gives your heart a gentle cardiovascular workout.

One study showed a 15-minute laughter yoga session was akin to 30 minutes on a stationary bike.

B.     Mental Health Benefits

The strongest advantage of puppy yoga is undoubtedly the mood-enhancing qualities of animal interaction. Research shows that even short periods of animal contact, such as 15 minutes at a school Counseling Center, stimulate improved mood and reduced stress.

Playing with puppies stimulates the release of  the “love hormone”, while decreasing production of the stress hormone cortisol. This helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure for relaxation.

Therapy dogs are used extensively to help reduce anxiety symptoms in stressful settings like hospitals and disaster areas. Plus, increased levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins from laughing and hugging puppies creates a potent mood-boosting effect.

C.     How does it benefit the puppies?

Beyond lifting spirits through cuteness overload, puppy yoga is about deeper human-animal connections. Classes provide critical socialization that rescues need to overcome early traumas like abandonment or maternal separation.

This allows developing pups to become affectionate, well-adjusted dogs — making them more adoptable.

So, while human yogis reap the de-stressing benefits, puppy participants gain the lifelong behavioral skills that make them loving lifelong companions. It’s a comforting reminder that the happiness we experience from animals like dogs often directly relates to how we humans treat them.

Through this symbiotic sharing of joy during puppy yoga, two species build life-improving bonds.

As Amy Klein, an enthusiastic puppy yoga fan told the New York Post: "Having those little licks in between poses really helps me find my Zen.”


III. The Soothing Science Behind Puppy Yoga

Why does doing yoga surrounded by frolicking puppies feel like a shortcut to joy? The formula is simple: yoga reduces stress while exposure to cute animals boosts mood.

Several studies confirm that just 30 minutes around animals like puppies decreases stress hormones like cortisol while increasing production of feel-good neurochemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin.

Add in the documented mind-body benefits of yoga, from improved heart rate and immunity to better sleep quality, and you’ve got a winning wellness cocktail.

As Dr. Ann Berger, a veterinary scientist at Texas A&M University explains: “Research shows that even small doses of contact with animals like puppies can lower stress hormones like cortisol."

No wonder merry mutts are now finding their way into yoga studios nationwide.

young student with beagle puppy during puppy yoga session in Toronto

IV. What Happens During a Puppy Yoga Class

Curious what actually happens when you roll out your yoga mat alongside soft, squirmy puppy bodies? Classes begin with snuggle time, as participants sit cross-legged on their mats and puppies are brought over one-by-one for introductions and cuddles.

Getting to know the pups you’ll be posing with allows human and furry yogis alike to get comfortable.

Then class progresses much like any other yoga session, incorporating beginner flows, classic poses, deep breathing and finishing with a relaxation period. Expect dog-friendly tweaks to standard sequences, like tucking knees snug during downward facing dog to avoid becoming a puppy perch!

The major difference is puppies roam freely, sprinkling doggy kisses and puppy pile-ons throughout the class. Be prepared to giggle as a basset hound pup rests its droopy jowls on your mat mid-stretch!

Instructors pause for puppy play breaks, uniting participants through sheer, unadulterated cuteness.

Come ready to say “om” alongside “arf! — you’ll strike the perfect balance of grounding yoga with squeal-inducing snuggles only rambunctious puppies can provide.

V. Where You Can Join the Puppy Yoga Craze?

Pawpals Puppy Yoga, Toronto was founded with a mission of joy. We are here to create a safe space for both humans and animals to socialize, play and laugh. 

Our puppies come to us just ahead of heading off to their forever homes. Spending a few hours at our studio is a fun way for them to get used to new humans and to gently start to wean from their mama. 

For humans, the combination of mindful breathing, stretching and playful puppies is an incredible way to let go of your day to day stresses and to fill up your heart.

A golden retriever puppy in PawPals yoga session


VI. Frequently Asked Questions

For those new to the concept of puppy yoga, you probably have lots of questions about what to expect in a class. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is puppy yoga good for the puppies?
This kind of social interaction help puppies adjust around humans before leaving to their forever homes.

Is puppy yoga for kids?
Though puppy yoga is good for everyone, the minimum age for our classes is 13 years and they must be accompanied by a 18+ adult.

How puppy yoga is helping people with anxiety?
According to research, 30 minutes around animals like puppies pumps feel-good hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin thus reducing stress and anxiety.

What do you wear for puppy yoga?
We suggest choosing any comfortable clothing that allows you a free movement during the session.

How old are the puppies used in classes?
Most studios use puppies between 10-16 weeks old that are on track for adoption but need additional socialization first.

What type of contact can I expect from the puppies?
Puppies will wander freely during class and some may come over for scratches and affection.

VII. Conclusion

So next time you’re craving stress relief and comfort, ditch that eye mask or XL glass of wine. Instead, roll out your yoga mat alongside the most positive pint-sized companions around: playful puppies!

This heartwarming practice delivers the ultimate wellness experience, with equal benefits for both human and furry friends.

Say “namaste” as an exuberant mutt gives you slobbery kisses between downward dogs and warriors! Sign up for PawPals Puppy Yoga in Toronto and your stress levels and mood will thank you — as will those adorable puppies vying for your cuddles!


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