CAMANO ISLAND — Person and pooch became one as they stretched on mats in a grassy circle.
Kara Keating was leading a class in dog yoga, or “doga.” On a sunny Saturday last month, the yoga teacher hosted her second annual fundraiser for the Camano Animal Shelter. It played out next to her yoga and Pilates studio, Movement Arts, at a shopping center on the north end of the island.
“As you breathe in, imagine your dog’s love for you flowing into your heart,” Keating told a dozen-plus human-canine pairs. “… Sense the connection between you and your dog as you start to sync together and your hearts start to beat as one.”
Doga is a newfangled variant of an ancient art of relaxation and spirituality. Others include practicing yoga alongside goats or while drinking beer.
Keating told the class, “One of the meanings of the word yoga is to yoke or to bind or to bring things together.” It’s true: The term derives from the Sanskrit language, connoting union or connection. Or in this case, melding man and beast.
The class lasted about 45 minutes. Participants paid $10. They went through familiar poses, such as pinnacle and sphinx — adapted for dogs, thanks to the work of instructor Bernie Connolly.
Oliver, a standard poodle, was the demo dog. His previous dog-yoga experience entitled him to lie near the teacher at the front of the class.
“Of course, he’s got the personality where he can just stay up there — he doesn’t feel compelled to come down with the other dogs,” said owner Bonnie Cavell, a retiree who lives on the island. “That’s a poodle for you.”
Oliver kept form, with one exception: He bounded off mid-pose when he saw Cavell’s husband.
Husband and wife Kyle and Ash Ayars, also from Camano, brought 12-year-old Noodles, a pitbull-lab mix.
“She went with the flow,” said Kyle Ayars. “She’s kind of a lazy, couch-potato dog anyway.”
Ash stretched while Kyle stood with Tucker, a smiling pitbull from the shelter hoping to be adopted.
Things wrapped up with a short parade to sound of “Who Let the Dogs Out,” the 2000 hit by the band Baha Men.
The Camano Animal Shelter Association, or CASA for short, is a no-kill facility. It takes in about 600 animals per year, mostly dogs and cats, board president Martha Huyler said.
“We have been known to take guinea pigs and hamsters and birds and rabbits,” Huyler said.
The animals come in as strays or are surrendered by owners. Fundraisers throughout the year include bake sales, plant sales, a flea market, a dog wash and more.
“The shelter here — they are doing things right,” said Keating, the studio owner. “It’s clean, it’s quiet. They have a high adoption rate. I feel good supporting them.”
Keating started practicing yoga while growing up in New York City. Her interest deepened after moving to Washington state in the 1980s. She’s operated studios for nearly 20 years, first in Arlington and later in Stanwood. She opened Movement Arts on Camano three years ago.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; email@example.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.
For more information on the Camano Animal Shelter, visit www.camanoanimalshelter.org or call 360-387-1902.