If you were building an ideal habitat for a human being what would it be?
This idea of the impact of our environment (where we live, what we eat, etc.) on our wellbeing returns to me whenever I think about our dog, Truffle. Truffle is an 11-year-old Labrador who we adopted two months ago.
Truffle had been living in the wrong cage at the zoo: as a dog, but especially as a Labrador, her ideal living conditions would involve plenty of physical and mental stimulation, time running around outside, and a diet of mainly raw meat.
When we adopted her, Truffle could not run – instead she moved at a waddle. She weighed about 38kg and was described in her vet’s records as dangerously obese. She was placid to the point where she appeared numb, with hardly any expressions, and never got excited about anything.
Over the weeks we have watched as her natural instincts kick back in. She came alive the first time we took her out walking in the proper wild of the Brecon Beacons, climbing up the hill in the rain with more agility and speed than us! In the last couple of weeks, she has been able to progress from trotting to a full-on gallop, completed with mouth-open, tongue-lolling excitement. She is able to lie down and be rolled onto her back for belly strokes, relaxing to enjoy all the love and attention.
We are also learning to take better care of ourselves through looking after Truffle. She needs a walk every day, so do we. Truffle can tell that rainwater and filtered water is cleaner than tap water, and her mood and digestion improve visibly when we feed her high-quality food.
Like Truffle, there may be a case that we too find ourselves in the wrong cage at the zoo. When this happens to animals, you can see it in the way they hold their bodies – for example, whales in captivity often have a drooped over dorsal fin. In humans, too, the way that we hold ourselves reflects our inner states. Setting time aside to come to a yoga class is your dedication to take care of yourself on a physical, mental and emotional level.
In yoga we explore into our bodies, finding more space, more fluidity, more grounding. We work with the breath, the body and the mind to become more fully embodied. The practice of yoga encourages you to fully inhabit your body, and to treat it with love and respect.