If there’s one thing BDB’s clients, my yoga students, and well...most every person that has ever existed have in common it’s this: we’re rarely fully present.
What I mean is that our mind is generally trying to do a million things at a time, and our attention never really stays with whatever it is that we’re actually doing. From the moment we wake up we’re rushing to figure out and plan every piece of our day. When we go to bed at night, we’re often already planning out the next day’s activities. Make no mistake either, your phone, and social media have made this lack of attention and presence much worse. With such scattered minds it’s no wonder we suffer so much. We’re constantly missing the absolute beauty and wonder of the present moment. We’re missing what it means to be truly alive.
The type of yoga I teach is simple on paper. We do very few postures, we hold them for a while, and we focus on proper alignment. This is because the entire purpose of yoga is to teach us to connect: to our bodies and our minds, to the deeper part of us, and to the world around us. This connection is our natural state: it’s where we thrive as human beings. I rarely play music during my classes and instead I have my students focus on their breathing. Our breath is a very good anchor to the present moment.
When it comes to our dogs, our lack of presence is a big problem. You’ll hear us say again and again that the human/dog relationship is all about balance. Well, it’s impossible to be balanced if you’re not present. And if we’re not balanced, our dogs sure as sh*t won’t be balanced either.
Our dogs need a balanced leader to follow, someone they know can guide them and take care of their basic needs. Sadly, the reality is that many people aren’t aware of their dog’s needs. And the bigger bummer is that our dog’s needs aren’t that complicated to begin with! They just need food, water, shelter, structure, work, play, and (well-timed) affection. If we were truly present with our dogs, we could very easily tune into what they need in that moment. But many humans aren’t present at all, with themselves, their lives or their dogs. Many dogs just kind of sit in the background waiting.
Well, enough is enough. Your dog isn’t a prop or a background item, just waiting for whenever you feel like paying attention. Your dog is a living, breathing being and what it needs more than anything is for you to be present.
This means we must give our dogs our attention and our effort. It means we need to work on single-tasking. It means turn off your phone and walk your dog. The beauty of this process is that our dog can teach us so much about what it means to be present and alive. In a very real sense, our dog teaches us yoga. And not in some quirky “downward dog” kind of way, but in a real, “be-present and enjoy the beauty that is all around you in the moment” kind of way. Dogs kick ass.