If you are a practitioner of yoga, there’s a new trend you might be interested in: yoga with cats.
As a cat owner and an occasional yogi, I don’t include my cats in my yoga practice. My cats scratch things, like my yoga mat. They like to jump and climb on me and they also throw up fur balls, so I would find the vomit and cat climbing distracting. I go away from my cats to practice yoga.
Typically, the Good Mews cat shelter in Marietta, an Atlanta suburb, with its bright walls and white volunteer-scrubbed floors, is home to 100 or so cats who lounge and chase and bat at the odd toy, all while they wait for humans to come find them and give them a forever home.
Tonight, however, they are in for something special. Tonight, their home in the cage-free adult cat room transforms into a studio for the ultimate in challenging exercise fads. Classes have popped up on New York’s Lower East Side, in San Francisco, even in Des Moines and in Mobile, Alabama.
Some of these cat/yoga classes involve bringing your cat to the yoga studio. Any cat owner knows this is a recipe for disaster. My two cats hate to travel — they hate me for forcing it upon them and they hate their cat carrier, which I have to leave out a few days before a vet visit to avoid signaling to them that they will be inside that carrier against their will. After the fiasco of getting them inside a carrier for “yoga class,” I am supposed to drive with screaming cats to the studio so I can let them loose in a room with strangers and strange cats?!? And then get them back in their bags and drive home went it’s over? Oh hell no.
Perhaps there is a solution for this. “I thought with people with allergies, it might be hard to clean up the studio afterward, so I thought, why not bring the class to the shelter?” said the instructor, Lisa Bass.
With Bass donating her time, the class participation fee becomes a donation to help support the animals. Besides the usual assortment of cats and kittens, the shelter runs an expensive program that places cats with special medical needs, continuing to pay for their care even after they’ve left the shelter.
It’s for charity and it helps sick cats. That’s all I need to know. I’m down(ward dog) with this trend as long as I don’t have to take my cats to a yoga studio.
The class has been a huge hit. It sells out almost as soon as the times are announced online three times a month.
“I really like the class and really like hanging out with all the cats,” said Katie Misencik, a volunteer and regular yoga practitioner.
Misencik has taken other theme yoga classes, including one that involves beer, but she says the cat class is pretty special.
“It’s all about fun and is a little more relaxing,” she said. “There’s not as much pressure to make my form perfect.”
The classes also have the added benefit of helping socialize the cats. “They get stimulation from the humans,” said Johns, the manager. “They are very curious about what is going on. They get a lot of loving and affection and get more socialization.”
“You’re not just doing something healthy for yourself,” Johns said. “You are doing a bit of good too for these shelter cats that will only get even more adoptable with the extra time and attention.”