The YogaJunkie Blog :: Why I Wrote UPWARD DOG

We live in an extraordinarily physical culture.  That’s why when we think about yoga, we think about physical poses.  For many people, even those who’ve been practicing for quite a while, yoga is simply another fitness modality. 

But yoga is really much more than something to balance out cardio workouts and weight training at the gym.  

I love the physical practice of yoga, but I always knew that it was a sneaky way to get me to start looking inward.  Moving my body had tons of health benefits, but more and more I realized that it was primarily all about preparation for a more inward journey. 

You see, for many years I’ve taught some of the most physically challenging yoga classes in New York City and Los Angeles.  Pretty soon though, once you get your foot behind your head, you find yourself asking “So what?… Is any of this making my life any better? Sure, I’m more flexible, but am I really any happier?”. 

When I started looking around for the next set of answers, I realized that the most successful, most self-aware and content individual I know was sleeping blissfully at my feet.  I realized that what I really wanted was to have the same incredible attitude towards life that Belle, my chocolate lab, has. 

She’s by far the happiest and the most self-actualized being I’ve ever met.  And, like all truly great teachers, she instructs almost entirely by example.

To be honest with you, although I’ve trained extensively and been teaching yoga for over a decade, no Sanskrit scroll or mountaintop guru has taught me nearly as much about life as Belle, my chocolate lab, does during a single hike.  In fact, for a while now, my chocolate lab has been a model for me of “how to be” in the world.

Living joyfully in the present moment, constantly curious, exuding pure friendliness and enthusiasm that affects pretty much everyone she encounters, and most importantly, radiating an ability to let go and love unconditionally…she really is my guru (albeit one I have to walk and feed twice a day).  Because Belle is aligned, grounded and connected, things flow smoothly for her.  Simply put: Belle knows the secrets of having an awesome life. 

The time has come where I feel compelled to share with the world seven of Belle’s secrets, wisdom she offers freely with every wag of her tail. 

That’s why I wrote UPWARD DOG as a basic guide to yoga philosophy without being the least bit heavy-handed or intellectual or New Age-y.  I wanted to give the reader some feeling for the foundations of yoga philosophy –– along with some modern “law of attraction” and positive/well-being concepts –– in a way that was as friendly and cheerful as Belle herself.

In the most down-to-earth way, UPWARD DOG shares the heart of yoga philosophy –– all those things we spend time learning on the mat –– through the amber eyes of a very special dog. So although I talk very little about the physical poses (you can find that in tons of other books and DVDs!), UPWARD DOG is about the amazing changes that yoga, the ones that connect us most deeply to our true selves.

By Edward Vilga - Writer, spiritual teacher, and — according to Bloomingdale’s 1/2 page ad in the New York Times for his most recent event — a “legendary yogamaster”. His last yoga DVD hit #1 on after he was on Regis & Kelly, CBS Early Show, and featured People Magazine. Edward has had six books published which have been translated into a dozen languages. His most recent book is UPWARD DOG: Seven Secrets from My Chocolate Lab for Having an Awesome Life (available now; national release 11/1/11). Edward is a Yale graduate. © 2012