Yoga has been part of my life for the past . . . ahem, let’s just say a long time. I’ve taken various classes in hatha yoga and in Bikram yoga (was even lucky enough to be “adjusted” by Baron Baptiste, one of the masters of Bikram or “hot” yoga). I’ve gone to yoga conferences and one of my favorite times was a week at a silent retreat at Yogaville in Virginia. I’ve taught yoga for a group of my high school colleagues, substituted for my yoga instructor in Florida, and am now teaching a mini class in hatha yoga at the college where I work. But never have I done yoga with my dog . . . until I moved into this little house and Izzy decided he could do Downward Dog better than I can.
When I do my hour-long yoga session a couple of times a week (I do at least fifteen minutes to half an hour every day, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter), Izzy starts off being a bit itchy. Sometimes he runs from one room to the other. Sometimes he brings me his bone. Sometimes he’ll come right over into my face and gives a soft bark, as if to say, “You go, girl!” But about halfway through my longer session, when I’m doing a sun salutation or knee-deep in a series of warriors, he’ll sidle up next to me and go into a Downward Dog of his own. Butt wiggling, tail flagging back and forth, he looks at me with his tongue out, smiling, doggie fashion. Am I doing this right, he seems to say.
We move through the practice, side by side, him doing his doggie thing — all four feet in different directions, head flat on the floor, eyebrows lifting and twitching as he watches me. He stays within a couple of inches of me, as if he knows this is a quiet time and just wants to be close.
Once I start meditation, his eyes lower, his breathing slows, and it’s like he’s feeling the calmness and peace that I do.
I had a cat for nineteen years. She died right before I brought Izzy into my life. She did yoga with me, too, and it’s almost like she’s still with me when Izzy does his Downward Dog. Jojo was with me during the toughest times of my life, as well as the happiest, and when she passed, I thought I’d be fine since she had lived a long and full life, had gone blind and deaf and really needed to have a quiet passing. Little did I know that I’d be broken-hearted. It wasn’t until I found Izzy that the hole she left was filled. It took a lot of work on my part to make Izzy comfortable and to help him become part of my world, but he did. And now he’s as much a part of my yoga routine as she was.
This one is for Jojo. She was the best yoga cat who ever lived.