August 10, 2014

Yoga with Riley. ~ Elizabeth Grasher


Anxious and irritable or calm and content my dog has been by my side.

My dog has been a constant in my life and I treasure our relationship. As a result of our close relationship I have utilized my dog, Riley, as a tool to assist in identifying and recongnizing my own emotions and behaviors.

After work Riley greets me with a kiss and is ready to be leashed up for his walk around the block. But when I return home from a stress filled day he is content to sit in his dog bed or in a chair across the room from me.

In these moments I am oblivious that he is keeping his distance, because I am distracted, irritable, and tense. As I begin to relax he slowly works his way back to my lap to be held and cuddled, he appears to be aware of the physiological shift, from a state of tension to relaxation.

I have taken special notice to Riley’s reaction when I practice yoga.

10 or 15 minutes into my practice he joins me on the mat. It seems he wants to be around “my energy” during and after yoga. His favorite pose appears to be savasana, when he slowly nestles into me and I complete my practice, entering into a physiological state of relaxation.

He has the same reaction when I mediate or engage in a relaxation practice (i.e. diaphragmatic  breathing), he is by my side. Seeing Riley, my companion and friend, react so positively, has helped me realize the importance of implementing yoga and relaxation into my routine. The second order effect is that my health and general wellness has improved as a result of my yoga and relaxation practice.

Our pets, who we share our homes and lives with, know us at an intimate level.

Pets can help us identify our own physical and emotional state, if we slow down and are willing to be mindful of the signs.  Riley can detect when I am “off  balance” physically and emotionally, as a result he keeps some level of physical distance. When I become mindful and aware of the distance I realize that I need to relax and engage in yoga, exercise or meditate.

Riley helps me realize what I need to do to nourish my mind, body and spirit.

My dog has been an instrumental tool in helping me assess myself, even in moments when I wasn’t ready to accept I was emotionally depleted or drained. I am thankful for my companion and best friend as we share a life journey together.


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Apprentice Editor: Kimby Maxson/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Flickr

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Elizabeth Grasher