Picture this: You’re in yoga class, settling into your pranayama and working your way into your first downward-facing dog. You breathe in and out, set your intention, and then open your eyes to find your drishti (your gaze). Your eyes settle not on the back of your mat or the wall behind you, but on…a cat. The cat purrs and slides its tail along the inside of your legs, then flits off to say hi to the practitioner beside you.
There’s a new trend taking the yoga world by storm. It doesn’t have anything to do with fashion, beauty, or nutrition. It’s Yoga with Cats. And guys, it’s big. Classes across the country are consistently selling out, and studios are adding more to their schedules. Most of these classes revolve around fundraising and adoption drives for local shelters. With your suggested donation fee, you can support a local animal shelter and maybe even take home your new friend. Yoga studios often host karma classes to raise money for causes like this. Bringing the actual recipient of your donation into class is, for some, the next logical step.
It’s no mystery that interacting with animals is good for us. Studies consistently show that spending time with a pet has physical, emotional, and social benefits, including lowering blood pressure, decreasing behavioral issues in Alzheimer’s patients, and raising levels of pleasure-inducing dopamine in the body. According to research, sharing your life with a cat actually reduces your chance of dying of a heart attack.
Animal shelters are benefiting from these findings, but there are still many pets that need homes within their walls. The number of adoptable cats in shelters at any given time often exceeds the number of other animals. That’s one reason that cat-centric yoga classes are cropping up. In Asheville, N.C., Forrest Yoga studio the Little Volcano heard about this trend and approached the no-kill shelter Brother Wolf Animal Rescue (BWAR) to host a class. According to Jackie Teeple of BWAR, “Through our partnership with Little Volcano, we wanted to raise awareness of cats needing homes, raise some much-needed funds for our rescue, and hopefully bring new clientele to a small local business.”
And the outcome? “It turned out better than we possibly imagined! We had one adoption during the event, many more folks who heard of Brother Wolf for the first time and were now considering adoption, and the yoga studio got some new business,” Teeple said. The first class sold out so quickly that the studio added a second class, which also reached maximum capacity (with people lining the streets in the hopes of snagging a last-minute spot). In the end, over $500 was raised for BWAR. The class itself was a grand success. It began with the owner of Little Volcano, Rosie, introducing the cats, runway style, as she let them out of their individual carrying cases. They strutted around like they owned the place, much to the delight of participants. The yoga class matched the tone of the introductions—fun, lively, and with plenty of snuggles, it was a reminder for practitioners to let loose and have a good time. While the yogis practiced, the cats pretty much chilled out and stared at them (as cats do).
Due to this success Brother Wolf will be hosting future Yoga with Cats classes at the Little Volcano soon. But wherever you are, keep an eye out for a Yoga with Cats class near you! Has this trend hit your part of the world yet? What has your Yoga with Cats experience been like?