The Brits are a nation of dog lovers so as we celebrate the Chinese New Year of The Dog, CGTN’s Kate Parkinson met up with London’s first and only Dog Yoga instructor and shares the experience. 

Follow Kate Parkinson on Twitter @KTP_news

Never heard of Doga? Neither had I, but when I found out about London’s newest fitness craze I knew I had to check it out — 2018 is, after all, the Year of the Dog!

So off I went to east London’s Canvas Cafe where I found Mahny Djahanguiri rolling out her yoga mats.

“Doga is not dog yoga,” she tells me, laughing as she explains that of course dogs can’t actually do yoga poses.

Instead she says her Doga sessions are human yoga classes, where dogs are welcome.

As she prepares for her first class of the year she’s a little worried that the room is too small. She’s expecting 14 people, and almost as many dogs, and it’s going to be a squeeze.

Holding her Doga class in a cafe is not ideal, but she tell me most fitness studios are not dog friendly. I soon find out why.

As people arrive for the class Mahny tells them to let their dogs off their leads for what she calls “sniff and greet.”

It could be called “sniff, greet and pee” — there is a lot of territory marking as the dogs figure out their new surroundings.

“Weeing and humping are part of Doga,” Mahny laughs.

The first half of the class is chaotic. The dogs are running around and jumping all over the place.

Mr Waffles during his first Doga class
Mr Waffles during his first Doga class

Mr. Waffles, a black French bulldog is growling at another dog on the other side of the room. Lauren, his owner, tries to stop him but Mahney tells her and all the owners to ignore their dogs and instead focus on their relaxation.

“As soon as the human pack settles, the doggie pack will follow,” she says.

As she guides the class through a series of breathing exercises and yoga poses, the atmosphere in the room changes and eventually the dogs calm down and at times even get involved.

Mr. Waffles seemed to forget about his old foe and was quite content to hang out on the matt with Lauren.

“This is the magic of Doga,” Mahny explains.

She says if people expect their dog to behave in a certain way then they will be disappointed. But when the owners are really relaxed and have let go of their anxiety and stress and expectation that’s when the bond with them and their dog is really strong.

Having watched the class, I decide to take the plunge and join in for a one-on-one session with Mahny and her Maltese terrier, Robbie.

I’m a beginner at yoga, and dogs, but Robbie definitely makes a good partner. He’s been doing Doga with Mahny for years and seems extremely relaxed and she moves us into what she calls “the hot dog pose.”

Robbie is Mahny’s long time Doga partner
Robbie is Mahny’s long time Doga partner

You can check out our mini-doga session here:

Back at the Canvas Cafe as the class ends I ask people if they’ll come back and do Doga again. The response is overwhelmingly positive.

The Brits are a nation of dog lovers and as they usher in the Year of the Dog it seems Doga is really catching on.

In fact, it’s proving so popular that Mahny’s next class will be a Chinese New Year special where she’ll do Doga with up to 100 people and their pups.