I practice yoga, though I used to have a hard time admitting it.
Yoga is marketed to upper middle class people who use yoga as a way to let the rest of us to know they’re better than we are because they are healthy and we are not. You know the ones; they wear specially designed yoga clothes and carry their mats with pride. Me, I do yoga at home in a t-shirt and shorts on the shag carpet. When I do go to class it’s at work and it’s free.
I practice yoga because it is a wonderful strength-building exercise. Regular practice alleviates pain and stiffness from arthritis. And despite all the walking and line dancing I do, it’s only when I regularly add yoga to the mix that I feel improvement in my health.
I do my practice in the mornings after everyone’s immediate needs for food, water, and elimination are met. I get lots of moral support from the cats, especially Little Girl. She comes up to me and mewls encouragement while insisting I rub her head while I’m stretching my lower back. June Buggie and Bubba usually hang out nearby and feign disinterest, and sometimes even Rumpy comes in and hangs out while I do my thing.
But when I recently learned via NPR that cat yoga is a thing happening in some animal shelters and rescues across the country, I changed my mind about yoga. At these cat yoga events participants pay a fee to come to class at the shelter or rescue while cats available for adoption join in the fun. At the Greater Birmingham Humane Society in Birmingham, Alabama, women paid $10 each to participate in a class with some cats. And at least one fella who was just waiting on a friend left with a new friend. Recently news outlets reported of similar offerings in Houston, Atlanta, and Seattle.
I’m glad to learn this is a thing, and I hope more shelters and rescues jump on the bandwagon. True, my practice would be more consistent without the cats around, but it would be far less fun. And at these offerings the cats get a wonderful opportunity to socialize with humans. Here’s hoping yoga with cats helps increase the numbers of cats who are adopted out.
If you hear of a yoga class at a rescue in your area, go already! Meet some great like-minded folks and let a cat show you what stretching is really all about while supporting cat adoption!