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Training a Downward Dog

Training a Downward Dog
By Lori Bushey

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” ― John Grogan, Marley & Me

My animals have always been my kindred spirits, best friends, companions, and confidentes. I have loved many animals in my lifetime, mostly of the canine variety and one feline. As the animal Gods would have it, I have rescued, fostered, loved, lost, mourned, and released many animals in my lifetime. This is a very important aspect of my Yoga lifestyle, for I live with the tenet that all beings deserve happiness. On Facebook, I often repost important messages, mostly about the hundreds of animals needing homes. We are all responsible for helping others, even in a small gesture of reposting on Facebook. My four “children” take up much of my time and working from home, they often have to take a backseat to my priorities. I care for them, walk and feed them, bathe them, and have them groomed, they go to the vet regularly, have all of their vaccinations, and most importantly, they are loved. They are my responsibility and I am their voice.

My ten year old Jack Russell Terrier, Lolly, has been acting out and to be honest, has since I adopted her. I ignored, controlled, appeased, and “allowed” this behavior because I did not have the time or money to really focus on her needs. Last week Lolly had a run-in with a possum and it left her banged and bruised. She has attacked my Chihuahua, my Maltese, and other dogs. She also has a tendency to escape and once free, runs amuck. She was hit by a car eight years ago, survived, only to continue this wreckless behavior. She barks and growls at other dogs, mostly those three and four times her size and is relentless on walks. When I practice yoga, Lolly often comes to my mat and calmly performs downward dog, or she sits complacently. It is in meditation, I realized she and I are in tune with one another and when I react and show anxiety, so does she. Yoga, the practice that leads to happiness and greater fulfillment to those around me, helped me to realize my family members needed me to be the leader. If I, as a yoga student and teacher, dedicate time and attention to helping others, I must also help myself and my family. Lolly needed training, discipline, and security to truly become a yoga dog!

It took me fifty years to train, discipline, and find a sense of security in my life. Lolly deserves time and attention as well, lesson learned for a Yogini, practice what you practice! As a Yoga practitioner and teacher, I would not allow a student to practice incorrect form day after day, and yet I allowed my family member to practice disorderly and “bad” behaviors. John Grogan, author of Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog said, “There's no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner.” If I am to be a good witness and example, I must lead with my soul and take responsibility for the lives I have rescued.

Lolly is in school with two wonderful trainers from Pet Peeves in Pinellas Park, FL. She has been away for four of her seven day training and will continue in home afterwards. My yoga dog is sweet, smart, and loves to please. I know she will return home with the confidence, security, and calm to be the dog she deserves to be, in the home she has known for ten years. Everyone I have ever known dreads coming to my house because of Lolly, she jumps, barks, and cries for attention. It pains me because I see and know her sweet side, and they can only see an unruly dog they wish would go away. I believe we sometimes treat people this way too. My trainer Wendy said to me, “There is something Lolly has to teach you, a lesson in life.” Everyone and every living creature teaches us something wonderful if we wait, listen, and look long enough to see it. “It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see.” ― John Grogan


Lady, Frisky, Zoe, and no doubt Lolly, have all been my teachers, after all, we as humans need to look and listen, we are the “voice” of our animals. We speak for those without a voice, they teach us ahimsa, peace with the openness of love and acceptance, regardless of the beast! “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” Mahatma Gandhi. My favorite Yoga mantra is the following, Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu, May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Peace and Namaste.

You can view Lolly's progress in the video link below:

About Lori Bushey:

Lori Bushéy is an Advanced Placement Literature and Composition instructor with an education background from Exeter College, Oxford University, England, the University of Minnesota, and the College of St. Scholastica. 

Lori teaches yoga at Hot Yoga Largo, Clearwater Fitness, and Ashtanga-based Yoga on Indian Rocks Beach. Working remotely enabled Lori to practice daily and develop discipline of the mind and body. After an extensive home practice Lori pursued and earned her RYT Training at Anala Yoga under the direction of Ally Ford. Lori lives the yoga lifestyle and truly believes in the positive benefits of the practice. If you ask her “What is yoga?” her response will be, in the words of Rodney Yee, “Yoga is poetry of the body”  and what else would you expect from an English major? Namaste and continue to cultivate Seva.

Lori may be reached at:  labegr@aol.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Yoga2tao 

Lori offers private and group Yoga classes and seasonal beach yoga classes at Indian Rocks and Clearwater Beach. Check out the events section or contact Lori for details.



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