Yoga is considered a mental, spiritual, and physical exercise that tunes your body from the inside, out. While yoga was birthed in India it has found its way to North America where, according to the Yoga Journal, over 16 million Americans actively practice. North America also has over 160 million domesticated dogs and cats combined, according to the ASPCA.
Animals are intuitive creatures that literally learn from and take after their owners. So, should it surprise us when one or two of our furry friends manage to master a few yoga poses of their own? We’ll leave that question for you to answer. Listed below are 25 adorable animals who found their Zen on the yoga mat. #4 might even have taught us something!
25. BONOBO YOGA
Did you know that the bonobo great ape is more closely related to humans than the chimpanzee? Revered for their intelligence, this bonobo displays a very orthodox right-foot-out stretch as she limbers up for another day. This yoga maneuver activates your hamstrings and is integral in maintaining your flexibility, especially as you grow older and those joints begin to stiffen.
24. ELEPHANTS CRANE
A full grown elephant can weight upwards of 15,000 pounds, making them the heaviest land mammal on the planet. We are doubly impressed by this Crane pose, or bakasana, as it could not have been an easy task for an animal so weighted to the Earth. The crane pose allows your spine to stretch its full length, thus improving your flexibility.
23. UPWARD FACING DOG
One of the easiest poses to learn is the Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or, more simply put, the Upward Facing Dog. This lovely dog showcases his own version of the pose, demonstrating textbook stretch from his haunches all the way through the spine and into the snout. This pose does wonders for helping to improve your posture and strengthen your core.
22. Lemur Flex
Lemurs are some of the most impressively acrobatic creatures on the planet thanks to their trademark ringed tails. While this lemur isn’t using a traditional yoga pose that we are aware of, it is still finding its Zen moment. Look at that adorable wooden yoga ‘mat’!
21. Corgi Leg-Up
The average purebred Corgi will weigh around 26 pounds fully grown. The pup on display here, shamelessly practicing its own Yoga move, looks like it is steadily going to creep past that number unless he shapes up! Corgi’s live to be 14 years old, on average, and they are a playful and friendly breed.
20. Squirrel Plough Pose
This squirrel is practicing one of the most common poses in the world: the Plough (or plow) Pose. The Plough Pose is a wonderful pose for you to slowly warm up into. You’ll need to take this slow, be careful with your spine, and make sure you maintain proper form throughout. The Plough Pose is particularly beneficial to your shoulders, back, and neck.
19. Kitty Crow
The Crow Pose is very similar to the Crane Pose we mentioned above however our two animals practicing are a WORLD apart. Here we see a delightful tabby kitten either practicing the Crow Pose or falling asleep while ‘standing’ up. Either way the results are excellent and now we desperately want our own kitten yoga partner.
18. Upward Facing Pup
If you are at least semi-familiar with the different poses and forms out there then you’ve likely come to the realization that many of them are animal themed. The reason for this animal theme is simple: we get the poses from nature. Here we see a little puppy stretching its hips and legs in a natural way, through the bakasana pose.
17. Deep Stretching Chipmunk
There is a moment of pure joy when you hit the ‘sweet spot’ in your stretch. With an outstretched paw and a slightly poked out tongue we have a feeling that this chipmunk has found that spot.
16. Seal Pose
Do you think if we had seals as pets instead of dogs that the bakasana would be known as the ‘seal pose’? Call it the seal pose or the upward facing dog, just make sure that you keep your form proper throughout. Poor form on this misleadingly simple stretch can stall your progress and, worse, make you look silly in front of your yoga buddies.
When you finish practicing your forms you should always round out your session with the Namaste Pose, otherwise known as the Prayer Pose. While this pose may seem simple and laid back there is actually quite a bit going on beneath the surface of this asana. The Namaste Pose will help to straighten your posture and strengthen your upper body. You will also feel an increase in blood flow throughout your extremities. Use the Prayer Pose as an intermediary between other stretches.
14. Confused Bear
Looking at this Grizzly Bear at a zoo can make you forget just how powerful and big they are. Grizzlies can rear up on their hind legs to stand at heights nearing 10 feet. This delightful pose, which isn’t exactly considered yoga, shows a 600 pound apex predator passing time like any bored child would in your neighborhood. We’ll unofficially ordain this the Confused Bear pose.
Some yoga practitioners begin following the ancient art in order to focus more inward on their minds and bodies. For these people the yoga journey can be a solo one. However, when you practice with a partner you simply learn and feel so much more. Look at how delighted these two are as they sit contentedly in the Prayer Pose.
12. Downward Facing Cat
Having had a cat or two in my lifetime I am almost certain that this cat isn’t practicing yoga. Instead, I believe that the cat is demanding its owner bow to him to pay respects. Even if it comes from a snooty place this is still an example of a cat nailing a popular pose while its own struggles. Look at the perfectly arched back and fluid outwardly stretched paws. You can’t teach that kind of skill.
11. The Forms
Here we see a dog trot out several different forms, each with exceptional skill. We are curious how much work went into teaching this animal the different forms or if it was all natural. Either way we admire the dedication and discipline on display here, just look at how serious he’s taking his yoga!
10. Lord of the Dance
Yoga is a graceful experience if you let it be. Here we see an all white cat go through its own version of the Lord of the Dance pose, otherwise known as the natarajasana. For human practitioners this pose will help you to stretch through your hips, strengthen your feet, and tone your legs.
9. Learn from Home
Thanks to the internet and take-home programs you can learn yoga even when a teacher isn’t available in person. Look at how strict this old Labrador is when it comes to practicing poses it has known from birth.
8. Full Stretch Tabby
There are two common sayings regarding cats: 1) They have nine lives and 2) They always land on their feet. The reason for those sayings, in our mind, is that cats are extremely flexible and able to wriggle their way into and out of trouble. Here we see an orange tabby stretching in its sleep, showing off that natural athleticism and flexibility.
7. Kitty Prayer Pose
We now know that this would technically be a Prayer Pose but the menace behind this cats’ eyes makes us question getting close enough to find out. Some people practice yoga to relax and some cats practice so that they’ll be limber enough to beat you up.
6. Rest Pose
If you are going through a strenuous round of yoga you’ll have to pause at some point. Here we see a, we’ll just say plump, dog exhibiting the resting pose. The resting pose is a great way to relax the body, catch your breath, while still keeping your body lithe.
5. Leg Back, Paw Forward
Here we see a natural yoga expert pull off the Warrior Pose, otherwise known as the virabhadrasana. Most people stay fairly solemn while practicing but there’s no reason you can’t mirror this dog’s wonderful smile.
4. Table Pose
The Table Pose is an integral part of your routine and you should take some time to get comfortable with it. Once mastered the Table Pose will help you improve your balance, focus, and core body strength. Here we see a puppy absolutely nail the Table Pose.
3. Wide Angled Forward Bend
This fluffy ball of cute is exhibiting one of the tougher yoga poses to master: the Wide Angled Forward Bend. This pose is great for stretching your hips while allowing your spine to fully stretch. Note to dog owners: don’t let pups sit like this for too long as it can lead to hip problems as they grow older.
2. Eka Pada Cat
The Eka Pada Sirsasana is the yoga pose most familiar to cat owners. Considered to be a bookmark for new practitioners, being able to do the foot-behind-head pose will allow you to find new ways to stretch muscles you were never aware of. This cat makes it look easy but the Eka Pada Sirsasana is very difficult to master.
1. Giving Thanks
No matter where you are at in your life’s journey it is always nice to stop and give thanks for what you have. Taking time during your yoga routine to ponder on positive aspects of your life can do a world of wonder to your mental health.