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

Jeanne Simpson

Jeanne is an actress, choreographer, and dance teacher in Los Angeles. Some of her favorite acting credits include roles on the PBS kids series Wishbone, AMC’s Mad Men and NBC’s Parks and Recreation. She has also choreographed a wide variety of projects for television and theater. When she’s not running around on a set or stage, Jeanne is at home in LA enjoying time with family.
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