Q&A with Annie Stocker, Owner of Two Dog Yoga:
Yoga, the Importance of Community, and
Why It’s Good to Have Three Dogs in Your Tent
Enjoy Lake City (ELC) recently met with Annie Stocker, owner of Two Dog Yoga. We met at Little Dog, Annie’s first studio set on the beautiful grounds of her home. We were greeted by – of course! – two dogs: Bear, a big, friendly chocolate lab, and Hugo, a little Havanese sweetie pie.
ELC: Did you name “Two Dog” after Bear and Hugo?
(Annie) Before we had children, my husband Ray and I had two sibling chocolate labs named Ponder and Willow. They were a big part of our life, very playful, and loving. It seemed right to be naming the studio for something that was real in my life. Also, Downward Dog is one of the main poses in yoga and our logo is two dogs bowing to each other.
And if you’ve heard of the band Three Dog Night, that’s a term in Australia. When it’s a super cold night, you want three dogs in your tent to keep you warm. Two Dog Studio is a very warm place to be.
ELC: How did you get started in yoga?
I started doing yoga through the Experimental College while I was going to UW and I loved it. I liked the community aspect of it and the rhythm and ritual of it, how it just generally fed me. Every day I did yoga, I felt like I had a better day in my head, my heart and my body. That’s why I kept returning to it and eventually the teacher asked if I would like to teach a class.
ELC: How has yoga changed since you began teaching?
Some of the classical ways yoga has been taught have been meshed with other things. People would not be surprised if I was actually a yoga studio for dogs. I’ve had several people ask me “you do yoga for dogs, can I bring my dog?” In the 70s and 80s, no one would ask that! Now there’s paddle board yoga, and hiking yoga.
ELC: How would you describe yoga to someone who has never heard of it?
That’s one of my goals — to share the benefits I receive from yoga with others who would never consider it as something they can be part of. Yoga’s basic tenants are accessing what is already in us – peace, calmness — and to feel that with others, to expand our bandwidth and be more comfortable with our physical body and our mindset, which can become more and more narrow, as pain, fear or suffering comes in.
ELC: Can it help people with chronic health conditions?
Absolutely! We hold two volunteer chair classes a week with seniors at the Hunger Intervention Program’s lunch at the Community Center and at Lake City House. Some of the seniors have braces on their legs, recent surgeries, are in cancer treatment, need walkers or use scooters. We have scholarships and we do barter. I want everyone who wants to do yoga to be able to do yoga.
ELC: Is it low impact exercise?
What is different with Two Dog is we’re not hot yoga which right now is very popular because you sweat and get a feeling of really working out. We work in the studio at body temp or a little warmer and the degree we work at depends on how healthy and stable you are, from chairs to jumping sun salutations, from the very gentle to the very challenging.
ELC: What unusual things stick in your mind?
I remember one couple, the woman has since passed away. She was an incredible person. She and her husband helped each other learn handstands. For him it was a physical challenge, for her it was fear of falling. Together they were learning about strength and trust. I always keep that in mind. I spoke at her memorial service and told that story. He still comes to yoga classes. It was such a magnificent sight to see these two together helping each other.
ELC: And on the funny side?
One time the doors were open, a cat came in and wanted to be part of the class. Everyone was distracted by the cat. I’m not a cat person, I’m a dog person. I thought “I have to get this cat out of here. I can’t teach the class this way”. I pick up the cat and it was not pleased. The cat peed all over me and everyone laughed, so it was a moment of shared laughter in the class.
ELC: So then there probably won’t be a “Two Cat Yoga”? What changes have you seen over the years in Lake City?
Over time, I’ve seen more and more people move in with the clear intention to stay here and grow their family or plant themselves deeply into the neighborhood, rather than being a transition neighborhood. There is no longer a feeling of “this is my starter home”. It’s now “this is my home and a place I want to be part of”.
ELC: What are some of your favorite things about Lake City?
Tall evergreen trees. A little bit of a feeling of the 40’s and 50’s still, with some funky old-type memories. I love that the people who live here are diverse. They come from many lands, places, backgrounds. I think about Lake City the way I think about the guerrilla garden in front of my studio – there are people who are struggling and people who are not, young people and old people, people new to this country and people who grew up here.
ELC: Anything else you’d like us to know?
There is a lot of energy right now in Lake City, and a lot of opportunity to help create and craft the neighborhood we want for ourselves and our families, while being inclusive of everyone. I believe it can happen.
Two Dog Yoga: 12549 28th Ave NE Seattle WA 98125 206-367-9608
twodogyoga.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org