July marks the 4th anniversary of when I adopted my dog. It’s also the one year anniversary of my re-dedication to my yoga practice. Reflecting on both made me think that dogs and yoga have more in common than just the name of a posture. It was suspected that Dakota have been abused, her first forever home wasn’t fit and she was back at the shelter. I should say that she chose me as much as I chose her. Strangely enough, I can say the same thing about yoga. In life things seem to appear when we need them most. I got to thinking and realized that there may be something to this dog/yoga connection:
When I think of being flexible I think about the places that I can't bend rather than the places that are already juicy and loose. It wasn't always this way. Before, I focused on my strengths and shied away from pushing myself out of comfort zones unless I could be assured of success. When you adopt a dog, part of you has to go with the flow and learn to adapt to their needs. My practice is the same way, true growth in yoga comes from exploring struggles rather than successes.
Dakota was terribly shy when she first came home. She hid for most of the the first week and flinched whenever I would reach out to pet her. At night, I would wake to find her next to me, but it took some coaxing and empathy for her to trust her new home. Now it's a different story, she's all over the place and loving life! In yoga I found that I needed to be compassionate with myself, my practice would progress when it too, was ready. Rushing that could be damaging.
Last summer when Dakota and I were on our evening stroll we were stopped by a guy from Chicago who couldn't stop staring. He and his wife had just lost their dog who looked just like mine. He even had a photo. We chatted for a bit and he took a photo of Dakota for his wife. It was sweet. Total strangers can find a reason to reach out when you have a dog. It's an unspoken community you join. The nod that dog owners give each other reminds me a lot of the smiles that get exchanged when you see someone who has on their yoga mat. It's acknowledging a fellow traveler.
I know the notion that everything is inherently all connected is probably just a nice thought. And I certainly don't pretend to have the answers to life, but I do think that with the help of Dakota and yoga I'm certainly asking all of the right questions. And isn't that the point?