A Lesson In Balance From The 3 Legged Dog

Yoga to improve balanceWhilst sitting on a beach in Thailand last year, I became quite mesmerized with watching this dog go about its day.  I noticed a group of dogs all running together, playing and nipping at each other. At first I didn’t realise why but this particular dog kept sitting down to rest.  As the group moved further towards me I then realised that the dog had only three legs!

It was such a poignant moment, I felt sad for the dog at first. However, I quickly realised that the dog seemed pretty much like all the other dogs apart from this missing limb.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this amazing creature.  I thought how cool this was and discovered that a dog can very easily get by on 3 limbs.

With a little research I found out that one recommendation is to ensure your furry friend has ample rests when needed.  Makes sense why the dog was sitting more often!  This is important so that premature wear and tear injuries or arthritis don’t form in the remaining joints.  I’m sure that a 2 legged dog mightn’t get on in life quite as well as a 3 legged one for obvious reasons! Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight was also seen as important.  However, the tip that stood out the most to me was to let a 3 legged dog be a dog!

If a three legged dog is kept from doing all the things that dogs love to do, she will have lived an unfulfilled life.” (1)

We can replace the “dog” in this sentence with “person/people” and it still makes sense!  YOU are a person, your injuries and restrictions may mean you have to modify but it shouldn’t stop you from being a person.  People do yoga, any people, you included!

The Idea Of Yoga To Improve Balance

There are so many people I speak to daily who think they have “imperfect” bodies.   This could be due to missing or broken limbs, nerve damage, arthritis, age, illness or injuries.   My belief is there is no perfect body, only the perfect body for you!

Look at the leg sitting in slightly toward the centre, bowing inwards allowing the dog to balance.   It also appears that there is quite a bit more muscle developed on one side.   No, it doesn’t look the same as the other dogs but does that really matter?  If we tried to change it to balance or “align” the dog, it would fall over and wouldn’t be able to do what dogs do!

In our yoga practice we can take a lesson from this.  Parts of our body mightn’t do exactly what we would like them to.  Nevertheless, trying to force a knee to be straight or a twist to be equal on each side will rarely be helpful or achieve anything.   If anything, I would say it is more likely to cause an injury.  If you’ve come to yoga to improve balance, chances are you will change your whole idea of that along the way.

Yoga To Improve Balance – Lessons To Learn

The main lessons from this tale (or should that be tail, he he!):

  • Rest when needed and respect where your body cannot go
  • Keep moving, take care of your body, it can do many awesome things
  • Be perfect in your imperfection, drop the striving for this ever elusive balance
  • Keep doing the things you love and live that fulfilled life!

Charley Hickey

 

 

About Charleyoga & Charley Hickey

Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.

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References:

  1. https://shibashake.com/dog/three-legged-dog-care-tripod-dog-care