“I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained; I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition. They do not like awake in the dark and weep for their sins; not one is dissatisfied — not one is demented with the mania of owning things; not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago; not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.” — Walt Whitman
Whitman’s compassion and observations toward animals mirror the way local yoga instructor Kimberly Drye likes to engage with her 7-year-old Siberian husky, Mercy, and all animals. There is a lot to learn from spending time with your pet, she says. “It is the feeling of not being rushed that the dog embodies. There is a timelessness.” She continues, “Pets are never caught up in the drama of being rushed like we are. We need to spend time with our pets and create a presence with them.” (pictured: Drye and Mercy; photo courtesy of Kimberly Drye)
A Western North Carolina native and UNCA student, Drye prefers to practice yoga in her Asheville apartment with Mercy in the room. The yogic philosophy of being present and compassionate translates to the way we interact not only with one another but also with our pets, she says. So her yoga influences the way she interacts with her dog. “I need to be present with Mercy,” Drye says. “At first she was all on me and my mat, and I would have to put her in the other room, but eventually she got used to it. Now she and I both like it.”
In fact, Drye’s hiking-and-yoga class, Yoga On The Mountain, blossomed from her experience with Mercy. “It started with an intention. I would go into the woods to do yoga privately with my dog by my side,” she says. “There is a power of combining yoga and nature.”
Drye wanted to share the inspiration with the Asheville community. In the warmer months, she guides a group of up to 20 students to various locations, including Max Patch and Black Balsam, where they hike and practice yoga.
What’s in it for the pups?
Students bring their furry companions to romp around with one another during the hike, and when Drye leads the hourlong yoga practice, the owners enjoy meditating on their mats while the dogs frolic amongst the leaves and sunshine.
Or just lie around and relax.
For more information about Drye’s class, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit herenowyoga.com.
Kate Lundquist is a freelance writer and yoga teacher living in Asheville.