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What's the newest exercise craze in the fitness world? Cat yoga!
Pet lovers who practice yoga with cats is a booming trend, and it's great for both humans and their furry companions! For those of you who love to exercise and love to interact with animals, cat yoga is the perfect way to bond with your kitty and get in a good workout at the same time.
Health Benefits for Humans
More than just a series of physical poses, yoga also encompasses meditation and breathing. The popularity of yoga, a discipline that has been practiced for thousands of years, has increased greatly over the past few decades as more people discover its benefits.
Yoga "is considered one of many types of complementary and integrative health approaches," reports the Mayo Clinic. In addition to improving flexibility, increasing muscle tone, and nurturing mindfulness, research shows that yoga also assists with issues, such as anxiety, chronic illness, and depression.
So, how do cats fit into this discipline? As top-notch stretchers themselves, as well as intuitive soothers, cats are natural at adopting the physical and emotional aspects of yoga. Watch closely the next time your kitty gets up from her nap, and you'll see just how pliable her muscles are.
Because cats are playful and curious by nature, and because cats will do what they can to get your attention, the minute you hit the yoga mat, your kitty will be right there with you, working on her cat pose (and probably clawing the mat). Consider yourself forewarned.
Although you may find yourself somewhat distracted by the feline participants, it's a unique experience that can have a positive impact on your life. Feeling stressed? Cats can help with that, too! As Vetstreet points out, "Pets lower stress by fulfilling our need for touch, which we find comforting. And what's more, they feel the same way about it."
Cat Yoga Events
Even if you don't have a cat of your own, you still can exercise with cats that would love your attention. Animal shelters across the U.S. now host cat yoga nights as a way to help people strengthen their cores, find inner peace, and perhaps a new forever furry friend.
The cats also greatly benefit from this interaction. "They get stimulation from the humans," Lisa Johns, the manager of the Good Mews cat shelter in Marietta, Georgia, explains to CNN. "They are very curious about what is going on. They get a lot of loving and affection and get more socialization." Yoga classes at Good Mews are taught by a certified yoga practitioner whose goal is to welcome animal lovers and prospective pet parents to the shelter to visit with the adoptable cats. Definitely a win-win situation! Be sure to check local yoga studios or animal shelters to see if they are also offering this wonderful experience.
Yoga not your thing? Basic stretches also work well when you want to exercise with cats. For example, you can perform toe touches on the floor at home with the help of your cat. She'll stretch out next to you and, most likely, will bat around at your toes a bit.
Whether you're a cat parent already or thinking about adopting one, practicing yoga with your cat promotes a healthy mind and body, and strengthens the bond between you. Plus, it no longer gives dog lovers an excuse that they can exercise with their pet because now you can too!
Christine O'Brien is a writer and long-time cat mom. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @brovelliobrien.