The meaning of dog yoga poses

In Hindu mythology, each deity has its animal vehicle (vahanas), thus revealing its essence and energy.


Bhairava, an incarnation of Shiva, relates to the dog as his vahana.


This choice is no coincidence, since the dog is a symbol loaded with meaning in Indian mythology.

bhairava brahma

Often, in the West, we see the dog as a faithful human companion.


When exploring their pre-domestication nature, we find the fox, wolf and other canines, ferocious and agile creatures, experts in hunting.


This ferocity resembles the divine wrath of Bhairava.

It shows us that canine energy can be terrifying but it is also a powerful tool for protection.


The dog, like Bhairava, demonstrates loyalty and protection once a bond is forged.


This ferocity/loyalty duality reflects the transformative nature of spiritual power, which can be tamed and channeled for spiritual growth.

bhairava siva
BHAIRAVA - PH: Mary Harrsch (Photographed at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington D.C.)

There is a story in the epic Mahābhārata, where Yudhisthira allows a dog to accompany him to the gates of heaven.


The gods are opposed to thus “polluting” the divine realms with their presence, denying the dog entry to heaven.

Yudhisthira was captivated by the dog’s loyalty and returned his loyalty.


He declared to the gods of heaven that he would not leave the dog behind.


As it turned out, the dog was Yudhisthira’s father, Dharma, the god of virtue.


He was in disguise: he had been testing Yudhisthira’s virtue all along.

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The meaning of dog yoga poses

significado del perro boca abajo

The first, Adho mukha Svanasana provides stability and connection to the earth, while the second, Urdvha Mukha Svanasana channels wild energy, activating the kundalini. 

meaning of upward facing dog

Both postures represent the range of expressions that we find in canines.


By practicing them, we understand the transformative power of that energy in the life of the yogi.

Embracing the essence of the dog in the practice of yoga, we learn lessons about transformation, loyalty and protection.



Always remembering that even in the most impure appearance, the purest heart can be found. The meaning of the dog yoga poses.


Text based on: The Stories Behind the Poses,  Raj Balkaran.

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