At Tri-County Animal Rescue, Yoga Goes to the Dogs

Yoga dogs aren’t just for calendars anymore. Starting next Wednesday, Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton is launching a biweekly yoga class fit for canines as well as their owners.

At the first “Downdog With Dogs” at 8 a.m. July 24, local instructor Naya Rappaport will lead pet owners through meditation and breathing exercises and then a yoga flow choreographed for all ages and ability levels. Participants’ dogs will be right there with them, enjoying the company: Owners may massage their paws, body, head and neck during poses. Or, Rappaport says, “you could hold them in a lunge, say, or a tree pose, for extra balance.

“Studies show that movement is great for not only the body physically but also mentally,” she adds. “It boosts the mood all the way. You’re creating happiness. Even better, you have a fur baby with you, which is therapeutic for them as well.”

Naya Rappaport

Dogless participants can “adopt” one of Tri-County’s pooches for the session, giving the dog much-needed time out of its cage. While the pup might not know a child’s pose from a plank from a sun salutation, chances are they’ll love the field trip. “I feel like dogs live in the present moment, so each second you’re with them in and spend this time together, they’re going to love it—especially for the dogs that need to be adopted,” Rappaport says. “Let’s give them that human interaction.”

Rappaport is a longtime supporter of Tri-County, a onetime dog walker, and the owner of a rescue dog herself. She’s been in touch with Sharon DiPietro, chairman of the board of Tri-County, since she began attending its annual fundraiser, the Doggie & Kitty Ball. Downdog with Dogs is her way of giving back to the charity she loves so much. Each session is $15, with all proceeds benefiting Tri-County.

Rappaport says her yoga flow will include core movements and standing and seated poses, bookended by grounding meditations. If the weather holds, she’ll lead the class outdoors. Rappaport hopes the experience will bring like-minded individuals together. “After a while, we get so busy with work, and our own routine,” she says. “It’ll be so cool and fun to connect with the community and meet people just like you, that love animals and yoga.”

Dogs must be well behaved, socially friendly and on non-retractable leashes, and owners must bring a copy of the pet’s current medical records in order to participate. For information, call Melissa Baum at 561/482-8110 or visit tricountyanimalrescue.com. Rappaport can be found at nayitavp.com.