I am a self proclaimed crazy dog lady. I’m one of those people who gets really excited when I go to a party and the host’s dog is there and I can hang out with the pup. I sometimes cancel all my plans just cause I really feel like staying home and cuddling my dog.
Recently, my partner and I adopted another rescue dog, Olive. Olive came from a very abusive situation, so things like eye contact and reaching to pet him make him extremely anxious. We’ve had to learn a lot about caring for and loving such a scared and sad little guy. Olive has taught me many lessons since we adopted him, and as a yoga teacher, I can’t help but relate them to my practice.
- Patience: this is the biggest one. Just like in our yoga practice, we must be patient with our bodies and honor its limitations, Olive cannot be rushed to do anything; everything must happen on his own time. He has accidents in the house, he chews up things when he gets nervous, he runs away from everything and everyone, he hides under the bed, etc. It has taken a lot of patience to understand that he is recovering from years of abuse and will need to adapt to his new life on his own time. We can’t rush him into this process.
- Responsibility: In yoga, we are taught to take responsibility for ourselves, both physically and mentally. We are taught that we are responsible for how we feel and we have the power to change it. Olive has taught me a lot about responsibility in a short amount of time. When he has an accident in the house, I know it’s really on me for not being attentive to his needs and letting him out in time. When he gets bored and chews up his bed, I know it’s on me for not making sure he had enough stimulation. He has taught me to be responsible in a new way.
- The Joy of Progress: Most of us start off our yoga practice tense, stiff, and lacking some strength. As we practice, we slowly start to notice small changes occur. We start to become a little more limber; those forward folds stop making our legs feel uncomfortable; downward facing dog starts to feel more restful than challenging. These changes, when strung together, bring the joy of hard work paying off. Similarly, we’ve noticed Olive start to warm up to us, ever so slowly. His tail has gone from permanently down and tucked to perky; he doesn’t always run away when we go to pet him; he sometimes will curl up next to us on the couch rather than hiding away under the couch. These victories have been a joy to witness!
Animals have a lot to teach us. Often, we think we are the ones rescuing them, when in fact they also improving our lives and making us happier, more patient people. Have you noticed any yogic lessons from your pets lately?