Doga a stretch for owners and pooches

Cathy Dormaier and her pet demonstrate doga. - Photo by Kevin Hanson. To view or buy photos go to
Cathy Dormaier and her pet demonstrate doga.
— image credit: Photo by Kevin Hanson. To view or buy photos go to

Yoga practitioners have long used the “downward facing dog” posture to strengthen muscles, stretch the spine and calm the soul.

Now, those who count on yoga to improve their daily lives can literally incorporate a dog into their routines.

The concept is called doga and two Enumclaw-area women – friends and partners Cathy Dormaier and Chris Offerdahl – have become certified instructors ready to lead classes.

Doga introduces canines into the practice of yoga. In some cases, it might be as simple as placing a foot against a pet while in the Warrior 1 pose; in other situations, the dog might be fully involved, being lifted upward by its front paws to stretch its back.

No matter what the application, Dormaier and Offerdahl are true believers.

“They give us unconditional love every day,” Dormaier said of the dogs that enhance owners’ lives everywhere. Involving pets in basic yoga poses, she adds, allows for quality time to be spent with her pets.

Yoga translates to “union,” she said, explaining that doga leads to “developing a strong connection with your dog.”

Most people lead busy lives, she said, and doga is one way to assure a positive experience with a pet. “It’s a way to spend one hour connecting with your pet in a loving way,” she said.

Dormaier realizes some will immediately scoff at the notion of doga and is quick to point out “this is not teaching dogs yoga poses.”

She demonstrates with her two dogs, a Pappilion named Riley and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel who answers to Winston. Riley rests on Dormaier’s legs when she goes into a full boat pose and Winston rests comfortably as Dormaier covers him completely while doing a hands-and-knees stretching pose.

“I think it enhances the benefits of yoga,” Dormaier said, noting that poses remain the same, “and it builds a special relationship with your dog.”

She notes that the size of the dog doesn’t matter. When she and Offerdahl became certified doga instructors in Seattle, the class included everything from a large Irish wolfhouse to a teacup Chihuahua. The Plateau pair were certified following a three-day training course offered by Barking Buddha Doga in West Seattle.

Offerdahl and Dormaier will be teaching their first doga class at Argus Ranch in rural Enumclaw. The session runs for four consecutive Saturday afternoons, beginning Oct. 24. The cost for the four sessions is $50.

For information, contact Dormaier at 360-802-6799 or Offerdahl at 360-829-0415.

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