Cat yoga isn’t what we thought it was. At Petswelcome, we had images of yoga instructors trying to teach felines the Downward-Facing Dog pose which cats, we don’t think, would like very much for the simple reason that they like being cats. Not dogs. Also, when was the last time you got a cat to do anything? However, it turns out that cat yoga is so much better than that, in so many ways. One of the first to try cat yoga is Good Mews, a cats-only, kill-free shelter in Marietta, Georgia. For each cat yoga class, led by a certified yoga instructor, students (human) come in, lay down their mats, and then the fun begins as cats move among them, doing exactly what you would expect cats to do when humans are purposely trying to not pay attention to them. They come sit in your lap as you sit in the Lotus Pose, or on your chest in the Corpse Pose, or bat at your ponytail as it hangs down in the Cat Pose, or wedge themselves under your back while you try to hold the Bridge Pose. In general, cat yoga is an exaggeration of real life. Cats walking around wondering what the hell us humans are up to and then kind of getting in the way.
Admittedly, adding cats to the yoga class equation doesn’t make for heightened concentration but it is awfully enjoyable, which means it’s relaxing and stress reducing, and hey, wasn’t that why you decided to take yoga classes in the first place?
But as far as the shelters are concerned, any benefit you derive is simply collateral goodness. The real objective here is the mental well-being of the cats, who benefit greatly from the human contact they get during these classes, even if you’re pretending not to pay attention to them as they use your outstretched hand as an impromptu back scratcher or tunnel under the end of your yoga mat. And, as noted, this interspecies interplay has also had a positive effect on the number of adoptions in many of these shelters, as students become attached to their yoga cats and want to take them home, where they can do cat yoga all the time. To that we say, Awesome!
Cat yoga has now extended beyond shelters, but it still has maintained that connection, with shelters providing the felines (and sometimes even kittens, for kitten yoga) for cat yoga adoption days.