Travel Toronto, ON: Down Dog Zen at Veg Food Fest 2018 (or Loving Dog Yoga)

instructor and dog during dog yoga class Veg Food Fest Toronto dogtrotting.netDown dog is how my terrier Victor spent most of his Zen Dogs Wellness yoga practice … and I was thrilled. Meditative stillness came easy to him – but that might be the point.

Zen Dogs Wellness is a unique Doga, according to yogi Alexandria Santaguida. It’s a ‘dog and me healing and yoga class’ designed to include your pooch in the practice.

Victor and I brought our matt, our Ezydog harness and leash (which clips around my waist) and our pre-existing connection, to the Toronto Veg Food Fest 2018 just to give dog yoga a try.

That’s right dog yoga. Or DOGA to some.

“Other dog yoga classes are about practicing yoga with your dog there,” Santaguida tells me during the festival. She developed this particular class, designed to focus on your pup and include them rather than just have them nearby. It’s about “engaging with your dog throughout the class – giving them the love, attention and healing they deserve,” she says.

Zen Dogs Wellness helps participants connect more deeply with their canine companions through mediation, energy work and massage.

Our outdoor class is attended by a few people with dogs … and a few without. We start with a focus on the dogs and appreciating – or reciprocating – the unconditional love they bestow on us. We move through some simple yoga asanas (Victor stays chill) then stop to focus again on our fur babies, massaging their backs and stretching their legs a bit.

My dog was surprisingly Zen through the process. He mostly hung out on the mat with me and maybe appreciated being rubbed and stretched by the instructor, though I’m not sure. (A pet communicator once told me he doesn’t like being fussed over). He was the demo dog for the class – other bigger younger Fidos were more interested in playing with leashes than focusing on yoga.

Another surprise? Victor didn’t hump … something he sometimes does during my at-home yoga sessions.  Maybe including him in the process helped.

For one hour, a handful of people and three dogs flowed their way to shavasana under the South Common Tent during the 34rd Annual Veg Food Fest at Harbourfront Centre from September 7-9, 2018 produced by Toronto Vegetarian Association.  (Check out Veggielicious here).

During the festival, about 150 vendors filled the tents along Lake Ontario’s shore and approximately 40,000 people attended. Veg Food Fest claims to be North America’s largest annual celebration of all things veg – including animal rescues, animal rights organizations and sanctuary farms – and 40 hours of presentations and workshops, including dog yoga.

Missed Zen Dogs Wellness and want to try it?

Head to Toronto the last weekend of September. Specifically, Ontario Place Trillium Park – every Saturday from 11 am to noon and Sunday 10 to 11 am there’s a free yoga class.

Zen Dogs Wellness will be on September 29 and 30, 2018, so bring your pooch, a mat, and some warmer yoga gear because Toronto’s waterfront gets a bit chilly in the fall.

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