There’s a lot of talk about energy at Bevill Dog Behavior and at Blossom Yoga School, in fact I’d dare say that this is where our two worlds overlap the most. We tell you again and again, that a dog needs a calm, confident leader, that our dogs pick up on our energy, and that we need to make sure our energy is saying what we want it to say. But how do you do that? Well, let’s take a look at it from a yogic perspective.
In the practice of Hatha Yoga we are using our physical body to tap into our energy. We’re looking to increase awareness and decrease distraction in all aspects of life. You might say the goal of yoga is to calm the mind, or to connect to the present moment. In Hatha Yoga specifically we use postures, movement, and our breathing to increase our connection and awareness. In a sense we’re flexing the subtle muscles of our mind and body, and this allows us to tune into and adjust our energy.
That might seem like a lot of big, lofty work, but it’s really quite simple. I’ll break it down for you in a way where you can instantly change your energy, without ever setting foot on a yoga mat.
Over my many years of study in eastern philosophy and immersion into many schools of yoga, I have realized that the common thread in the physical practices of yoga can be broken down into two main categories: the spine and the breath. From an energetic standpoint all of your chakra points line up with your spine, all of your main nadis (through which prana/energy flow) connect through the spine, and the spine is a major component in the central nervous system. That is to say quite simply: your spine is the connection between the physical and subtle bodies. By subtle body I mean energy. This means if we want to change our energy, our spine and our breathing are our two main doorways.
In fact, from one perspective, the entire reason we do any yoga postures is to stretch, strengthen, move and align our spine. Once the spine is set, we are able to practice meditation.
However, for your purposes here at BDB you really only need to know one thing about the spine: tall, but relaxed. If you’re hunched forward or slouching, you’re not projecting the calm, confident energy your dog needs. If you’re stiff and too uptight, you're not projecting the calm, confident energy your dog needs. Imagine your spine as a stack of quarters, it has its natural curves, but still is upright and perfectly balanced. To achieve a tall but relaxed spine the easiest thing to do is stand up straight, then roll your shoulders away from your ears. Softly draw your belly in toward your spine.
Great, that leads us to the second factor in adjusting our energy: our breath. We so often forget the power of deep breathing, but from a yogic perspective our breath is directly related to our prana, or life force. The second we stop breathing, we die. If we can control our breathing, we can live long, healthy and happy lives. We can adjust our energy at will and connect to the world around us on a deeper level, including our dogs. How?
Well, there are many forms of pranayama, or breath control, but the very simplest thing is to take deep breaths in and out through the nostrils. Pause at the top of each inhale, exhale completely, and notice the natural pause before the next inhale. Simple as that. Do 10 slow breaths like this, with your tall but relaxed spine, and your energy will dramatically shift toward calm and confident.