Puppies a growing addition to the yoga world

May 1, 2024 | Culture, Life

Puppy yoga has been on the rise as a trendy, fun, and spirit-lifting workout.

The owner of Puppy Yoga Studio in Vaughan, Ont., just north of Toronto, Leah Nikiforova wants to ensure participants leave with a smile and good spirits.

It’s a mix of yoga, which has its advantages, and the addition of puppies only seems to add to it.

Nikiforova discovered puppy yoga when she was going through a personal tough time. What she found was not only euphoria but the inspiration to open her studio on Bradwick Drive, in the North Rivermede and Langstaff Roads area.

Nikiforova has been running her studio for about a year.

“I went to one class to get some therapy and obviously some joy from the puppies and I came up with the idea for people in Vaughan and Toronto to enjoy,” Nikiforova said.

Within two weeks she opened her studio.

“I sold out the first class within the first two weeks without really even advertising it,” Nikiforova said.

She said it feels like it is a therapeutic experience for many that offers the opportunity to raise, or improve, moods.

“One girl came in crying, she was in a really bad mood. When she left the class, she had the biggest smile on her face… That happens so often,” Nikiforova said.

These classes are 40 minutes to an hour long, that include a beginner-level yoga routine with the puppies jumping and laying on or around and 20 minutes of puppy playtime.

Jaden Jacobs is a yoga helper at the studio. It all began when she went to a class and fell in love.

“I came with a best friend in September. I wanted to do and be a part of this experience and activity,” Jacobs said.

She said her favourite part about her job is seeing how happy clients get at the classes.

“Someone might not be having the best day or things might be going on, but for those 40 minutes to an hour, they’re able to just forget about that for a little bit and be mindful in the moment,” Jacobs said.

She said puppy yoga can be a great opportunity for people to be mindful in the moment and appreciate both the yoga aspect, which helps with relaxation and calmness, in addition to the positivity that puppies bring.

The puppies come from breeders the studio works with, and yogis have the opportunity to connect with the breeders if they are interested in adopting a puppy they met.

Samantha Wexler, a coordinator and puppy handler at the studio, says the uniqueness makes this experience so popular, and it was about time that someone mixed the two.

“Many people love yoga, they also love puppies,” Wexler said.

She says customers often come back after their first experience.

“They’re 100 per cent coming back and bringing friends or more people, or that they know someone else who loves it,” Wexler said.

She said her favourite part of the studio is the environment.

“It’s just positivity, leading up to the class, and then when the class is happening and it’s going and everyone’s having a great time, I think that’s just my favourite part,” said Wexler.