In ancient days the Rishis (seers) watched the movement of animals copying their forms, bringing to us asana ( poses) which are the bread and butter of our daily practice today. Up dog, down dog, fish, rabbit, camel, cow. As we know yoga is not just the pose but also the integration of the philosophy behind the poses into our everyday practice of living.
So how can we live our life more like that of a dog and really embody our practice as was intended?
Chasing the tail
One of the greatest sources of suffering according to Buddhist philosophy is attachment. When we attach ourselves to our job, car, the way we look, the promise of a better future or anything we become a slave to our desire. We start to chase even harder when we feel we are losing our grip on something or someone, and we become depressed if someone or something leaves our lives. Watch a dog chase its tail, it runs around and around in circles trying to grasp something that it already has. When it finally gets its tail it realises that it has to let it go for it to become free.
We all want to be top dog, someone special, important, valued. To get there we spend a great deal of our time in comparison, judgement and competition. If we didn’t quite make it we sometimes force our children to do or be what we think will make them top dog, special. We forget that we can just be human and our children can just be kids. We jostle for place in the competition of life thinking that if we just (fill in the gap) then our life will be a whole lot better. I continually go through my life comparing myself to those around me, on the mat and on the street. It’s very subtle but constant. The truth is we can’t all be the best, but we can all be the best human we can be. How would it be to just become the best version of you without comparison?
Here are 9 essential qualities of a dog. Patient, unconditional love, balance of sleep and play and eating, doesn’t complain, takes what you give it, is grateful, knows how to relax, is faithful and lives in the moment. Because this is the true nature of the dog, the dog also thinks this is what we are. How can you become the type of person your dog thinks you are?
If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment ,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
You are probably a dog.
Practice for today: What qualities of a dog can you bring into your practice off the mat today. For inspiration watch cute Italian dog and owner.