June 17, 2024


Travel Adventure

Puppy yoga: Can Downward Dog with actual dogs truly make you happier?

4 min read

It’s a fact that dogs can make you happier. Playing with a pet is proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels, help with depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Hence the birth of one of the craziest (and cutest) health fads, puppy yoga.

Yoga is known for its stress-busting and mood-boosting benefits, so adding cute puppies into the mix theoretically serves to intensify these feelings. I headed down to a puppy yoga class in association with activewear brand Bo+Tee and Shout to see what the fuss is all about and discover whether a Downward Dog surrounded by actual dogs can make you happier.

What is puppy yoga?

Puppy yoga does what it says on the tin – it’s a yoga class involving puppies. The idea is that combining the physical benefits of a yoga session with the serotonin-spiking presence of puppies gives you double the joy.

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The puppies are typically allowed to roam freely around the yoga space, interacting with people during the session, or may be let out after the class has ended.

Let’s be honest – there’s not a whole lot of yoga involved. Puppy yoga is not for those seeking a challenging workout. The flow will typically be shorter and low energy, with the focus very much on the moment the precious pups will be let loose for those all-important photo opportunities.

 SEE: I suffer from SAD, and this is the one thing that lifts my mood without fail 

malamut puppy standing by yoga mats
My yoga class featured seven Malamute puppies

Great options for first-timers include Puppy Yoga in London or check out the listings on Eventbrite for a suitable class.

What are the health benefits of puppy yoga?

The benefits of puppy yoga include:

  • reduced loneliness
  • social interaction for the puppies
  • improved mental health

Pickleball Feature founder Michael explains the science behind it: “Puppy yoga offers a unique combination of physical and mental health benefits. Participants not only enjoy a fun, playful workout, but they also experience a boost in mood and stress relief.

“Interacting with puppies releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin, which can lower anxiety and promote a sense of calm. Moreover, the presence of these adorable animals encourages participants to fully engage in the practice, improving focus and mindfulness.”

yoga teacher posing in front of bo and tee sign© Bo+Tee
The flow will typically be more gentle and easy to follow

Did puppy yoga actually benefit my mental health?

We were guided through a 20-minute Vinyasa flow at the airy Strek Studio in London. The energy in the room was high as a bunch of girls giddily sailed from Downward Dog to Warrior II before the real fun began and the pups were unleashed.

Reduced Loneliness

It was certainly an icebreaker. There was something unifying about experiencing puppy yoga with a bunch of strangers, bonding over our squeals of delight, and how cute the dogs were.

malamute puppy lying on the floor© Bo+Tee
Playing with the puppies is certainly an ice breaker

However, I wouldn’t say it’s a cure for loneliness – it’s no different from a regular yoga class where everyone is focused on their own moves and personal goals.

There’s also something inherently isolating about a situation where everyone is more interested in capturing content for their Instagram and TikTok than being present in the moment.

RELATED: 10 mistakes to avoid when bringing your puppy home 

Group meditation during yoga class© Bo+Tee
Puppy yoga is great for your mental health

Social interaction for the puppies

The event was held in association with Puply, who safely pair puppy playtime with Yoga, Pilates, Sound Healing, Comedy, Painting, Dating, Brunch and Afternoon Tea.

Our pups in question, a litter of seven Malamuts, were being socialised with a group for the first time. This helps the puppies get used to human interaction and prepares them for their future homes.

Following a brief safety demo on how to handle the eight-week-old puppies from Puply, they released the hounds from the pen in which they had been snoozing. Once our 30 minutes were up, they were ushered back in safely.

The utmost care was given to ensure no harm came to the doggos and the playtime definitely seemed to be beneficial for them.

malamute puppy with tongue out sitting on lap
I defy you to attend puppy yoga and leave without a smile on your face

Improved mental health

The biggest difference I noticed was in my mental health. I got a serotonin boost from seeing a dozen bundles of fluff gallivanting around a small room. From puppy pile-ups to yoga mat accidents and the dogs crawling onto my lap, the canine cuties brought me pure joy.

I found myself smiling ear-to-ear, losing my inhibitions and talking to both the puppies and strangers around me.

The mental high from the session lasted well into the next day as my dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin levels were raised from the thrill of it.

malamute puppy yawning on lap
The yoga session is beneficial for helping the puppies get used to human interaction

The real happiness boost came from the reactions I got from friends and family upon seeing photos of me holding the dogs, however.

I can see why puppy yoga is an influencer’s dream – there’s nothing more unifying than cooing over a picture of a cute puppy.

DISCOVER: I swapped my anxiety-inducing life to grow flowers: here’s what I learnt 

Bo+Tee, alongside sister company Oh Polly, has been proud to support Shout throughout the month of May 2023. Every week the brands have been encouraging shoppers to donate £5 to Shout in order to receive 25% off their next order.

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