Who Let the Dogs Out?

If you’ve ever worked with me, you’ve met my two assistants.

Whether we’re teaching an online class or giving an in-person private session, Zoolander and Big Blue are always ready to help. They announce every arrival, demonstrate proper stretching techniques, and offer warmth and grounding for clients during bodywork sessions on the Galileo.

Zoolander, the older and wiser of the two, is more subdued. Before Big Blue arrived on the scene, he would warm up for his day by taking small naps. Preparing for the deeper rests that awaited once clients arrived and began their routine of movement, then bodywork sessions that included his gentle presence on the mattress he is convinced is his own.

Blue is a different type of teacher. Boisterous, articulate, and endearingly determined, he will prod you with his paw if you forget to pet him then spontaneously jump up to chase his tail, or play fetch with himself - tossing random objects in the air and chasing after them while the rest of the room is focused on fascial unwinding and deep release. Early on, one of my clients nicknamed him “ Fur Missile” and he lives up to the name - interjecting his joyful bursts of frenzied activity throughout the day with no need of interaction from the rest of us.

We have a lot to learn from our dogs.

Moving in ways that feel natural and intuitive to them, they stretch, run, jump, and play in a manner that engages their entire body without rigid, restrictive patterns. They engage in physical activity not as a chore, but as a pleasurable experience. They rest when they need to, and ask for intimacy with an honesty and vulnerability that would make any therapist proud.

Often, when a bodywork session is over and I need to move the mattress, Zoolander remains at rest on it’s surface. I notify him “ Zoolander, you need to move” and he opens an eye, pauses for a few seconds, then slowly elevates his hind section and demonstrates the perfect “ downward dog” for long enough to affirm that he has a choice in the matter before finally getting up moving on.

I Wonder - If We ALL displayed similar behavior every morning… insisting on a moment of re-integration for our consciousness, then actively choosing to consent to the day’s arrival, and finally taking our sweet time to streeeeeetch our bodies out before leaving our bed, if our days wouldn’t be arguably better from the start.

As humans, we tend to think FIRST, and expect that our bodies will follow along - executing the actions directed by our minds without question. Prioritizing our work activities and productivity goals, we shut off the signals from our nervous system to take a break, change positions, stretch out, or engage in short bursts of high intensity activity for no other reason than “ it was time”. Perhaps that’s why when it comes time to “ work out”, we require external motivation to push our workouts to the intensity level required to actually generate positive changes in our muscles, bones, and neuromuscular connection.

Dogs don’t just rest, and when they stretch, it’s active. When Big Blue wags his tail, the movement ripples along his entire spine. Their play intuitively integrates effort, momentum and impact with responsiveness and breaks to catch their breath.

But of course, we’re not dogs and it’s unlikely that a few poetic metaphors will actually influence you to change the way you live life in your body without some actionable direction.

So here are some truths we can take away from our furry friends:

Repetitive movements are good for our bodies and minds. Reducing anxiety, improving proprioception, increasing mobility and decreasing pain, these types of exercises deliver a multitude of benefits.

Short Bursts of activity throughout the day can add up to real results : Taking an “activity break” for every 45 minutes you spend at your desk, or repurposing the time you spend in line at the bank or the grocery store into single legged balancing exercises or hip circles will make a substantial difference in your wellbeing.

Ask for affection when you need it - ‘nuff said.

Nap frequently, and stretch upon awakening.

And ALWAYS, Wag your Tail and hit those Downward Dogs.

So of course, this week I give you a workout inspired by repetitive play. You can do the entire sequence, or select parts as random movement snacks to pepper throughout your day. If you’re a personal trainer, these exercises are wonderful homework to give your clients - requiring little to no props and minimal instructions.

If you'd like guidance and support in joyfully integrating these principles into your own movement practice, I invite you to join me for upcoming classes and workshops:

  • 2-hour Gyrotonic Intensive in May: Dive deep into flowing, spiral movements to release tension and improve mobility.
  • 4-class LifePro series in July: Learn to use the LifePro vibration plate for playful, dynamic exercises that boost strength and balance.

For more details and to register, click HERE. Nothing would make me happier than if you came to play with me Reader.

Let's embrace the wisdom of natural, intuitive movement and rediscover the joy in conscious fitness.

Wag on,

Domini Anne

p.s. if you're looking for an opportunity to unleash your Joy of Movement, join me for two classes at Lightning in a Bottle !

I'll be teaching Core Breathwork and Jedi Spine Tricks at the most wonderful music festival over Memorial Day Weekend.

We'll dance our hearts out and reconnect with our bodies, with thousands of other radiant, creative souls.

Domini Anne

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