therapeutic yoga with cats
Cats are very unique animals that offer humans not only companionship but healing energy. As healers, they help their human companion reduce risk of heart attacks, overall cardiovascular disease, and depression. Cats are particularly special because of the purring noise they make - this alone is soothing and therapeutic for the nervous system.
The presence of a cat during a yoga class can be an interesting experience. In certain classes in Toronto I allow my cats to join us (provided that no one has allergies or fears). They teach us and heal us at the same time.
The young cuban cat (Pippa) is playful and sometimes hyperactive, but give her some time, during most yoga classes she tends to calm down. She loves to sit and stare at our crazy poses, or she is looking for comfort on a blanket nearby - she just wants to be part of the class on her own yoga mat. When savasana comes around, she's ready, seeking out the best student to cuddle with. Sometimes it is based on the coziest blanket she can find, but more importantly - who needs the most healing today. She cuddles right in the spot between the knees and thighs, or closer to the feet. She chooses a person she knows will welcome her.
My male older cat (Nico) also has a wonderful sense of who may need healing during the class. While the class is on he scopes the entire room, and sometimes circles 3-4 times. He is gathering information - who is here, what are they feeling, and most importantly, who wants to give me the most attention??
Towards the middle/end Nico finds himself sleeping in his beanbag bed, awaiting savasana. When he feels like it, many times he will get up, and walk over to the suitable student, finding that nice warm spot to settle in. Again emitting healing energy and warmth, he is there to comfort and soothe while basking in the love the student has for his energy.
There is a third cat (Chimpy) but she listens to the class from afar. More anti-social in nature, she prefers to come around whenever she feels like it. However, she is quite aware and also enjoys hearing us chant and laugh. She even will rest in areas of the house where the most healing energy has been created - in the yoga space or in the clinic room.
All the cats are so aware of the healing energy we are building in the class, they love being part of it and adding more to it. It is always a treat for them to have attention from loving human beings, because all they want to do is share their love and healing energy in return.
When a yoga class is happening, cats remind us of how to be in tune with our true feelings, our inner child, the deep love we have in our hearts. The calming effects of the class are enhanced 10 times just through presence of these loving creatures. Who needs a therapist? All you need is a cat yoga class!
Elvira is a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Yoga Instructor. She combines her knowledge of the naturopathic modalities with mind-body therapy, yoga, ayurveda, exercise, and energy healing.