Cat Yoga: Practice Makes Purrrrfect

October 4, 2017

When one animal lover and yogi was looking for​ ​new​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​engage​ ​the​ ​community,​ she found that cat​ ​yoga​—yes, it’s a thing—was the ticket when it came to bringing healthy vibes and new​ ​people​ ​into​ ​the feline​ ​fold.

Catalina​ ​Esteves has​ ​been practicing​ ​yoga​ ​for​ ​years​ ​as​ ​therapy​ ​for​ ​her​ ​scoliosis.​ One​ ​day​ ​she​ ​noticed​ ​how​ ​much​ ​her​ ​two pet​ ​cats​ ​at​ ​home​ ​loved​ ​it​ ​when​ ​she​ ​did​ ​her​ ​yoga​ ​exercises​ ​and​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​combine​ ​her​ ​passion for​ ​yoga​ ​and​ ​her​ ​love​ ​of​ ​cats​ ​by​ ​offering​ ​a​ ​cat​ ​yoga​ ​class​ ​at​ ​her​ ​cafe.​ ​​And cats in her cafe, is totally on the menu, since Esteves is also the owner​ ​of ​Cat​ ​Therapy,​ ​Santa​ ​Barbara,​ ​California’s​ ​first​ ​cat​ ​cafe.
In​ ​case​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​familiar,​ ​cat​ ​cafes​ ​are​ ​places​ ​where​ ​you​ ​can​ ​go​ ​and​ ​relax​ ​with,​ ​play​ ​and​ ​pet cats​ ​while​ ​you​ ​consume​ ​delicious​ ​beverages​ ​and​ ​snacks.​ ​​The​ ​cats​ ​are​ ​all​ ​rescue​ ​animals​ ​up for​ ​adoption.​ ​​​Catalina​ ​explained​ ​that​ ​the​ ​cafe​ ​is​ ​great​ ​because​ ​many​ ​feline​ ​fans​ ​can’t​ ​have​ ​cats at​ ​home​ ​because​ ​they​ ​have​ ​allergic​ ​family​ ​members​ ​or​ ​live​ ​in​ ​non-pet​ ​friendly​ ​spaces​ ​so​ ​this allows​ ​them​ ​time​ ​to​ ​commune​ ​with​ ​the​ ​their​ ​fluffy​ ​friends.​ ​​
To​ ​visit​ ​the​ ​cafe,​ ​you​ ​book​ ​and​ ​pay​ ​for 75​ ​minute​ ​increments​ ​with​ ​the​ ​cats,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​you​ ​can​ ​order​ ​specialty​ ​coffees,​ ​juice​ ​drinks​ ​and acai​ ​bowls​ ​to​ ​nibble​ ​on​ ​while​ ​you​ ​frolic​ ​with​ ​the​ ​felines.​

Cat yoga = no downward dogs?

Cat​ ​Yoga​ ​happens​ ​twice​ ​a​ ​week​, Wednesday​ ​night​ ​and​ ​Sunday​ ​morning, ​at​ ​the​ ​cafe.​ ​​Space​ ​is limited​ ​to​ ​about​ ​11​ ​students,​ ​and​ ​you​ ​must​ ​be​ ​15​ ​years​ ​old​ ​to​ ​take​ ​the​ ​class.​ ​​​Yoga​ ​mats are​ ​provided​ ​for​ ​all.​ ​​ ​Catalina​ ​invites​ ​the​ ​students​ ​to​ ​“Enjoy​ ​60​ ​minutes​ ​of​ ​gentle​ ​yoga​ ​and​ ​deep stretching​ ​surrounded​ ​by​ ​playful​ ​kitties​ ​seeking​ ​forever​ ​homes.​ ​​​Expect​ ​a​ ​fun,​ ​light-hearted experience​ ​for​ ​all​ ​yoga​ ​levels​ ​followed​ ​by​ ​30​ ​minutes​ ​of​ ​cat​ ​cuddles.”
Catalina​ ​explains​ ​that​ ​cats​ ​really​ ​respond​ ​to​ ​the​ ​meditative​ ​energy​ ​of​ ​the​ ​yoga​ ​class.​ ​​ ​​ ​When​ ​the class​ ​begins,​ ​the​ ​cats​ ​start​ ​to​ ​come​ ​out​ ​and​ ​participate​ ​in​ ​their​ ​own​ ​way.​ ​​ ​Cats​ ​are​ ​natural​ ​yogis since​ ​they​ ​spend​ ​most​ ​of​ ​their​ ​time​ ​relaxing,​ ​posing,​ ​and​ ​stretching.​ ​​ ​Sometimes,​ ​the​ ​cats​ ​will use​ ​the​ ​humans​ ​as​ ​their​ ​mats,​ ​climbing​ ​on​ ​a​ ​lap​ ​or​ ​a​ ​back​ ​in​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​of​ ​an​ ​exercise. Students​ ​should​ ​wear​ ​workout​ ​clothes​ ​that​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​mind​ ​getting​ ​fur​ ​on, and mats​ ​are​ ​provided​ ​because​ ​the​ ​cats occasionally​ ​love​ ​to​ ​dig​ ​their​ ​claws​ ​into​ ​the​ ​mat.
The​ ​three​ ​current​ ​cat​ ​yoga​ ​instructors​ ​Cristy​ ​Candler​ ​(Yoga​ ​teacher​ ​for​ ​Barcara​ ​Resort,​ ​Salt Cave)​ ​Adam​ ​Perot​ ​(teacher​ ​at​ ​SB​ ​Athletic​ ​club,​ ​Corepower)​ ​and​ ​Aneta​ ​Jensen​ ​(Yasa​ ​Yoga) are​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​experienced​, renowned ​yoga​ ​teachers​ ​in​ ​Santa​ ​Barbara.​ ​​ The​ ​fancy pedigree​ ​of​ ​the​ ​instructors​ ​guarantees​ ​a​ ​great​ ​class​ ​in​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​the​ ​fun​ ​of​ ​doing​ ​the​ ​class​… ​with a​ ​cat​ ​by​ ​your​ ​side.​ ​​ ​All​ ​the​ ​instructors​ feel​ a tad ​self​ ​conscious​ ​about​ ​calling​ ​for​ ​the​ ​“downward​ ​dog” pose,​ ​but​ ​they​ ​balance​ ​it​ ​out​ ​by​ ​incorporating​ ​as​ ​much​ ​“cat​ ​pose”​ ​as​ ​possible.
Cat​ ​Yoga​ ​is​ ​starting​ ​to​ ​catch​ ​on​ ​around​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​​​The​ ​Cat​ ​Cafe​ ​in​ ​Sydney​,​ ​Australia​ ​hosted​ ​a day​ ​of​ ​Yoga​ ​with​ ​kittens​ and NPR​ ​recently​ ​featured​ ​a story​ ​reporting​ ​that,​ ​animal​ ​shelters​ ​in​ ​Illinois,​ ​Louisiana,​ ​Michigan,​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​Texas​ ​and​ ​other states​ ​across​ ​the​ ​country​ ​”are​ ​partnering​ ​with​ ​yoga​ ​studios​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​money​ ​and​ ​increase adoptions.”
According​ ​to​ ​a​ ​recent​ ​CNN​ ​story​ ​about​ ​the​ ​cat​ ​yoga​ ​class​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Good​ ​Mews​ ​cat​ ​shelter​ ​in Marietta,​ ​an​ ​Atlanta​ ​suburb,​ ​Yoga​ ​classes​ ​with​ ​kitten​ ​companions​ ​​​have​ ​popped​ ​up​ ​on​ ​New York’s​ ​Lower​ ​East​ ​Side,​ ​in​ ​San​ ​Francisco,​ ​even​ ​in​ ​Des​ ​Moines​ ​and​ ​in​ ​Mobile,​ ​Alabama.​​​ ​The cats​ ​become​ ​more​ ​sociable​ ​during​ ​the​ ​yoga​ ​class​ ​which​ ​increases​ ​their​ ​chance​ ​of​ ​adoption.
Catalina​ ​Esteves​ ​uses​ ​the​ ​Eckhart​ ​Tolle​ ​quote​ ​on​ ​her​ ​Cat​ ​Therapy​ ​website​ ​to​ ​sum​ ​up​ ​the​ ​cat yoga​ ​experience.​ ​​ ​Tolle​ ​wrote,​ ​“I​ ​have​ ​lived​ ​with​ ​many​ ​Zen​ ​masters—all​ ​of​ ​them​ ​cats.”​ ​​ ​So, if you’re not allergic and you’re looking​ ​for​ ​the​ ​purrrrfect​ ​yoga​ ​companion,​ ​then​ ​you​ ​may​ ​want​ ​to​ ​train​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Zen​ ​masters​ ​at a cat yoga studio near you.
You can follow Santa Barbara Cat Therapy on Instagram @cattherapysb