Video: Reaching out to your pet with yoga for dogs

Joyce Kelly

Who could better master a "downward dog" than, well, a dog?

If doing yoga poses comes easily to a canine, it's only natural as in ancient times yoga instructors were inspired by animals when creating some of their poses.

"Most poses come very naturally for animals, which is why they're named after animals," explained "doga" instructor Carolyn Ronca, who will teach her first dog yoga class at MasterPeace Dog Training on Fisher Street in Franklin, Mass., starting July 10.

Ronca had been a pet psychic and avid yoga practitioner for 10 years, she said, when she decided to combine her two passions.

"When I'm at home practicing my own poses, my black Lab (Marco) is with me," Ronca said.

Dog yoga benefits both pet and master, she explained.

"It's a very calming experience for dogs and owners. It's relaxation. If there are any imbalances in energy, it's a time to balance those out. For the owner, it's about quieting your mind and bringing energy in, vs. putting energy out. It's restoring, it's very physically and emotionally restful," Ronca said.

Another perk of dog yoga, Ronca says, is telepathic communication between dog and owner.

"As we go through the yoga, you're learning to be quiet and you just begin to hear what your animal, your body might tell you," Ronca said.

Ronca receives messages from pets through words, images and feelings, she said.

"So many times, it's about being open to what they're trying to say to you. You can do it, you can do it easily, and you have been doing it - you just don't know you're doing it," Ronca said.

Dog yoga also teaches people what their dogs have already mastered, said Ronca: being in the moment. This is helpful in resolving physical problems that manifest from an emotional issue that has not been expressed or worked through, Ronca said.

"Pets are always, always in the moment. When you are present in your body in the moment, and if there's anything about your life or physical being that's not healthy, you'll get that thought, you'll become more in tune with yourself. It's a deeper sense of intuition," said Ronca.

Ronca starts yoga class by having an owner sit in the lotus position "to get very grounded," and the dog sits in the master's lap - a process that was assisted with treats during a demonstration last week.

To quiet a dog, owners should relax themselves first, because pets can feel their energy, she said.

"It will transmit to them. Your energy field goes 5 to 10 feet around you. What energy are you projecting to your animal friend?" asked Ronca.

"Many times, I've done communication with owners who are very high-strung, and their animals reflected this in their behavior," she said.

To demonstrate the sun salutation pose, Ronca works with Boo, MasterPeace owner Fran Masters' dog. She takes Boo's front paws in her hands, closes her eyes, inhales and exhales slowly several times.

For the downward dog pose, Ronca simply lifts Boo's rear legs.

Whether one's pooch can pull off a pretzel-pose depends on his or her fitness level, as well as that of his owner, Ronca said.

Masters honed her animal communication skills in Ronca's class recently, she said.

"She taught us we can all communicate ourselves, and those of us in the course communicated with each other's animals. It was very interesting," said Masters.

"Some people got some real insights. One woman's animal wanted to be the boss of the household. I had a picture of someone's cat, and the feeling I got was that she was a Landseer - a black and white New Finland - she wished she was a dog," said Masters, laughing.

The cat's owner then confirmed the family had a New Finland, which validated Masters' psychic connection, she said.

"When you hear from another animal they're afraid to go outside, or hate the vacuum cleaner you know what it feels like to (hear) an animal's thoughts. You will pick up your animal's thoughts just by being with them," said Ronca.

Doga is appropriate for all dogs, Ronca says. Doga class begins July 10 at 7 p.m. at MasterPeace Dog Training at 264 Fisher St., Franklin, and costs $140.

Tina Geoghegan, owner of Saddle Rowe Farm in Medway on Oakland Street, has hired Ronca to try to communicate with her two golden retrievers, Bella and Shelby, and horse, Reed, she said.

"When Reed came here, we didn't have a lot of his history, so she gave me insight that he was a little mishandled before he came to the farm. She told me about everyday things, like why my dog, Bella, is a little disobedient," Geoghegan said.

Ronca told the Geoghegans Bella was jealous of their new baby and disobeyed her husband because he never gave her the treats, she said.

"He wasn't a believer in the biscuits, and Carolyn didn't know," she said, laughing. "He's not her master and he doesn't give her any biscuits - she had that right."

The reading was helpful, Geoghegan said, adding that she had initially been skeptical and didn't believe in pet communication.

"I really didn't believe in any of it, but she actually said some things that seemed to be true, and helped me out with the horse's issues," particularly Ronca's advice to go slow with Reed and boost his confidence, as Ronca intuited the old owner was not kind to the horse.

"We go slow and we're positive, and he's been doing great," Geoghegan said.

For more information about MasterPeace Dog Training or doga with Carolyn Ronca, log on to or call 508-553-9300.

Joyce Kelly can be reached at 508-634-7582 or

The MetroWest Daily News