Downward Dog with the Dogs

Isabelle Calzaba, left, and Ariel Tolfree enjoy Puppy Yoga. (Photo: Lorelei Day)

Yoga isn’t just for humans anymore.

Maybe it stemmed from the many poses named after animals, such as the Downward-Facing Dog, Cow pose, or the One-Legged King Pigeon, but bringing live animals into the mix is proving to be a popular trend.

According to an article in, combining the healing effects of yoga with the stress-relieving addition of animal interaction can work wonders on overall well-being.

Puppy Yoga brought together a sell-out crowd of nearly 200 people on a sunny September morning on the Northaven Trail. Instructors led the class in a shaded, fenced-in area of grass as more than a dozen puppies were set free to mingle with the guests. Kisses and cuddles with the canines were encouraged.

“I don’t think I’ve seen this many smiles in one place for a long time,” said Erin Hannigan, Artists for Animals co-founder and Dallas Symphony Orchestra oboist.

Artists for Animals is a nonprofit composed of artists who raise awareness and funds for animal rescues. The organization is also responsible for initiating Puppy Yoga on the Trail.

The fun didn’t have to end with the final pose. All of the puppies were available for adoption from Operation Kindness, the largest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas.

“My daughter and I, we love this kind of stuff. And it’s for a great cause,” said participant Arian Thumann. “Both of my dogs are from Operation Kindness, so it’s near and dear to our hearts.”

Of the 13 puppies there, four were adopted that day, said Meredith Powell, CorePower Yoga instructor and Friends of Northaven Trail board member. Powell also went home with a new friend.

“I wasn’t planning to adopt, but it just happened,” Powell said. “Stella [the new puppy] is doing great. She is so happy to be in her new home.”

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