38: Yoga Spirit

38: Yoga Spirit

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Yoga Spirit

Fun fact: Classes in “doga” — yoga with dogs — are growing in popularity nationwide.

I was holding her bowl of food over her head. She danced around me, her twenty-two-pound body wiggling in excitement. “Say a prayer,” I commanded Spirit. Obediently, she barked out a prayer.

My daughter and I adopted Spirit, an energetic six-year-old white-and-chestnut Jack Russell–Terrier mix, from the local shelter when she was just four weeks old. We later wished that we had brought home her sister and her mama, too, but at the time we still had our Australian Shepherd, Sydney, who taught Spirit how to be a wonderful addition to our family before she passed on four years ago.

Spirit’s morning medley of hard-boiled egg, fresh carrots, black-eyed peas, corn, green beans, and cucumbers is quite the nourishing meal, but I was not ready for breakfast myself yet. First, I wanted to do yoga on the fuchsia mat in the other room. Before placing the lid back on the cucumbers, I grabbed a couple of slices. I had not slept well the night before, and my tired eyes were puffy. The cucumber slices might help reduce the swelling.

Taking my hair clip out and my glasses off, I lay back on the mat in the corpse pose with a cucumber slice on each eye. The cooling sensation was instantly soothing. Stretching my backbone on the floor, shoulders pressed down, arms out, palms up, I straightened my legs, relaxed my toes, and concentrated on calming my breath and quieting my mind.

I heard nails clicking on the tile floor, as Spirit came in from the kitchen to do yoga with me. Every day when I am on my yoga mat, she joins me and does some of the same stretch poses that I do, sometimes even simultaneously. Though she doesn’t hold the poses as long as I do, she keeps me quite amused.

The living room is carpeted, and I heard Spirit’s paw steps transition from tile to carpet. Lying on the mat with eyes closed, I flowed into a state of yoga stretch and relaxation.

I could sense Spirit standing close, hovering — a typical move she performs when she initially finds me on my mat. In one breath, her nose was at my face, a little sniff, a tender sensation on my cheek, and in a swift action, the cucumber slice upon my eye was snatched.

Opening my eyes, I caught Spirit nonchalantly chomping away as if I had handed her the cucumber. She finished the delectable cucumber and looked at me, as if waiting for something. In a sitting position now, I couldn’t hold it in anymore and burst out in laughter. Spirit continued to stand beside me, eyeing the other cucumber slice I held in my hand.

“Geez, Spirit!” I chuckled. “You might as well have the other one, too.” I lay back down on the mat, placed the cucumber slice upon my eye, and in a sudden burst, Spirit moved in for the prize. No sniffing this time, just a delicate snatch and a wagging tail.

Upon finishing the cucumber slice, Spirit stretched out on her stomach and into the cobra pose. I followed suit and, together, we continued our yoga practice.

~Elizabeth Anne Kennedy

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