Doga – The Rancan Sisters Fitness approach

Doga is a form of exercise that can help you feel more connected and calm together with pupper. Adele and Lisa Rancan, founders of Rancan Sisters Fitness, share their approaches to Doga and how this can help you and your pupper feel good from the inside out!

Lyka: Based on your experience, what are the top 3 benefits of Doga for puppers and fur parents?

Rancan Sisters: TOP 3 – Reducing stress, blood pressure and boosting the immune system with touch.

By exercising with your dog, you have already reduced your stress by removing the guilt of leaving them behind. You will exercise longer, no doubt you will finish your exercise and continue to do a walk or run with your dog before or afterwards.

Having your dog with you will increase your interaction with everyone around you, further reducing stress and decreasing the feeling of loneliness. Dogs make us feel less lonely because they are great conversation starters. They help you live in the moment. By having your dog with you when you exercise you are less likely to think about the past or worry about the future which is the biggest cause of stress in dog owners.

They will inevitably do something that will make you laugh, reducing tension which is good for your health. They fulfil our need for touch which can boost the immune system. You will have constant, undivided attention, and contact with your dog. Your blood pressure actually drops when you pat a dog.

Lyka: What benefits can puppers get from Doga?

Rancan Sisters: As with humans, dogs react positively to human/dog interaction.  They produce oxytocin (the feel good hormone) and decrease their cortisol levels (stress hormone) when connecting with their owner. During Doga, dogs have the undivided attention of their owner which is rare with mobile phones being the main technology distraction. A rubbing, stroking motion on the ears stimulates the pituitary glands and hypothalamus which releases endorphins (more feel good hormones).

Lyka: What are the common misconceptions fur parents have about Doga?

Rancan Sisters: This would be that dog owners sit back and watch their dog do the yoga class on their own.  When dog owners hear dogs and yoga, they immediately envision their dog doing the poses and stretches. They also find it hard to believe their dog will stay with them on the mat for the whole class or that there may be altercations with other dogs. 

There are always surprises with dogs doing doga.  When you visualise a class of dogs and their dog owners it seems like it will be a crazy, out of control situation. On the contrary it’s a very calm, relaxed session with dogs on leads so they don’t wander too far and they really want to be on the mat with their owner. 

Slow breathing, with a large group in unison, is what the dogs pick up on the most, once everyone settles into a rhythm of yoga breathing and moving through postures all dogs are calm and peaceful. 

Lyka: What is the one thing fur parents should know about Doga?

Rancan Sisters: Relax and go with the flow.  Every class and Doga experience will be different. We can guarantee though that you will definitely feel great afterwards and so will your dog. The Doga class is more about connecting with your dog than trying to get the perfect yoga workout for yourself.  There will sure to be some laughs and fun during the practice.

Lyka: Does the dog breed affect how you do Doga? How do you do Doga with puppers of different sizes?

Rancan Sisters: We’ve designed the Doga poses so that small dogs can be held or larger dogs stay close and through stretches can act as a support.  They will all receive massage and stretches throughout the session. We’ve taught Doga classes with various sized dogs from Chihuahuas to Spoodles, to Standard Poodles to Great Danes all with success and a positive experience for us and the dogs.

Lyka: What if there is no regular Doga session around me? Can fur parents do Doga themselves?

Rancan Sisters: Roll out your yoga mat and start with some basic yoga poses.  Develop a regular routine and very quickly your dog will associate the yoga mat with some fun, one on one, time with you. Keep the time to about 10 mins and then slowly increase to 30 minutes.

Lyka: What differentiates your Doga session from others?

Rancan Sisters: Our Rancan Sisters Doga style has been created with dogs in mind.  Firstly we use music which we have sourced -‘pet relaxation’ music composed to be compatible with dogs sensitive hearing. This adds to the ambience of the class and cues to the dog to be calm. Our Doga poses have dog friendly names such as Open and Close the Gate for the Postman, Throw the Frisbee, T-Bone Steak, Mountain Dog, Happy Puppy, Wag the Tail and the list goes one but of course a Doga class must include a downward dog and we often see dogs mimic their owners in this pose.  Dogs will naturally stretch into yoga poses that we recognise and we incorporate their natural movement into the postures.

We use hatha yoga postures, which are ‘user friendly yoga poses’ and breathing techniques to produce great benefits for energy flow through the body. These postures can be modified for absolute newbies to yoga.  The routine is a flowing practice to result in the feeling of balance, a meditative state, stress reducing and calmness.   The goal is to create harmony and synchronisation of energy flow between the owner and the dog. The class involves constant contact with your dog, smaller dogs can be held for some poses. Dogs love the movement of their owners and we’ve seen dogs move into their own ‘downward dog’ position in response to their owners stretching.

Dogs are massaged and stretched throughout the practice. There are acupressure points on dogs that we demonstrate.  Much like reflexology and the human feet, there is a complete map of the canine body on their ears. A rubbing, stroking motion on the ears stimulates the pituitary glands and hypothalamus which releases endorphins (feel good hormones). The session ends with savasana – lying down on your mat with your eyes closed and a state of complete bliss for owners and dogs.

Lyka: How regular is your Doga session?

Rancan Sisters: We have recently moved from our studio location and due to the increasing demand for Doga we are working on a book, DVD and teacher training program so Doga enthusiasts can participate in their own time or find a local class.

Reconnect and realign with your pupper! Why not give Doga a go with Rancan Sisters Fitness! A free community Doga session in Sydney at Mosman Pet’s Day Out (Mosman Village Green) on Sunday 27th October 10:30am.