When actor Anson Paul entered Pawga’s pet yoga workshop, most of the puppies had already chosen spots to cosy up in, as humans around them stretched and stretched (not half as deeply as the pups could, but good enough).
Anson tried wooing a couple of them towards him, but gave up and started doing the asanas instead. And then, a tiny paw laid itself on him. By the end of the session, three puppies cuddled up on his lap, refusing to let him go home.
The idea of Pawga is quite basic, says its co-founder Sinduja Krishnakumar. “You do beginner yoga, as the puppies run around you freely. Most of the time, they find a cosy corner to sleep while you practise,” she says.
Founded last year by Sinduja, Swathi Renugopal and Subhashree Madhavan, Pawga is a pop-up pet yoga workshop that functions in association with the Blue Cross of India to encourage pet adoptions.
“You feel refreshed when you spend time with animals, especially when coupled with yoga, it helps you calm down,” says Sinduja, adding, “And it is good for the animals too. Most of these shelter puppies hardly see humans. So this helps them socialise and be more active, which makes it easier for them to get adopted.”
All the puppies at their workshops come from Blue Cross, and a portion of the ticket sales goes towards the animal welfare NGO.
In each session, about a couple of pups get adopted. “Sometimes, someone will bond with a certain puppy, go home to think it over, and then come back to Blue Cross to adopt that particular pup,” she says.
Friends since their college days, Sinduja, Swathi and Subhashree shared a love for animals and volunteered at shelters. After their graduation, it was only in 2020 that the three of them found themselves in Chennai again. They conceptualised Pawga pre-pandemic and held their first session in November, after the first set of unlocks.
“Our first session was free. We wanted to test how the puppies would react to the people around them,” she says. Since then, they have been holding pop ups at places such as The Bark and Antispot. Sometimes, certain yoga instructors open up their studios for the sessions.
“We sat down with the teachers to understand how their practice can be suited to this. They are mostly used to calm environments to practise yoga, but puppies can create a lot of distraction with their running around. So we had to figure out a way that would be beneficial to both the students and the puppies,” she says.
Although the sessions are with puppies only, Pawga sometimes gets in a couple of older dogs too. “Half the people who come to Pawga are afraid of big dogs and just want to get themselves familiarised first. So we mostly have puppies but sometimes, when we are at Blue Cross, we get a few older dogs in, and talk about second-chance adoptions,” she says.
Each session is open to 15 to 20 people, same as the number of puppies. “We don’t want to intimidate puppies by throwing in a lot of people. Plus, if there is one pup for each person, they bond better,” she says.
Pawga’s next yoga workshop, led by Pallavi Rajankar, is at Antispot in Anna Nagar on September 19, from 11 am to 12 pm, and 1 pm to 2 pm. Tickets cost ₹1,199 for one, and ₹999 each for a couple. Visit @pawga_ on Instagram.