Love Thyself as Thine Own Dog's Breath


(This repost seemed particularly poignant to me this week. Enjoy!)

I must confess, I love my dog's breath. Is that weird? Probably. But I can’t help it. I’ve been there for every shift in it’s bouquet: pure puppy perfume to strong salmony sweetness to the occasional dastardly deathy dankness. Even the most foul of the foul makes me feel warm and fuzzy. As Fat Bastard once said, “Everybody loves their own brand, don’t they?”

It boils down to love, of course, which is the strongest kind of yoga. I’ve been deeply interested in every moment of my dog’s existence from the first week of his incarnation: studying his habits, his tendencies, his movements, his wants, his needs, and shaping them baby step by baby step in the direction of the best damn dog I can imagine. And upon getting that shot of love from a particularly pungent pawpourri, it occurs to me: isn’t this just what we’re supposed to be doing with yoga?

Image from We utilize the practice to help us study our habits, tendencies, movements, wants, and needs so we can shape them in the direction of the best damn person we can imagine. Sometimes, we need some treats to get us motivated and keep us interested. Other times, we need a strong voice to remind us of what we are  capable and where we’re going. All the time, we need love.

And we get that from our practice in increasing doses as we grow. The practice teaches us to know and understand ourselves more fully, and the natural by-product of understanding is love. Before we know it, we develop the most surprising kind of love: love for what might otherwise be dismissed as faults, weaknesses, and maybe even supposedly foul smells. Because it’s all ours, our complete human being that is magnificent, complex, infinitely faceted, and oh so temporary.

It’s easy to love a dog. They’re the best kind of yoga student: always paying attention intensely, always eager to please, always ready to give and receive love. If only we’d love ourselves just as readily. Now, take that to your mat and sit. Good person!