Friday, February 24, 2012

Cat yoga: Let your kitty be your exercise buddy!

Lucy the cat shows off her yoga skills
Check out this flexibility!
As part of my physical therapy program for this bum shoulder, I am considering a yoga class. My friends swear that yoga can help me improve my flexibility and gain back strength. There's only one problem: Yoga doesn't look like it's all that easy to learn. There's a lot of specialized terminology involved, and it looks like many classes in this area aren't designed for newbies like me. I suppose 90 percent of people in Portland have been taking yoga classes since they were wee tots just out of homespun socks. I'm a little late to the party.

Today, when I was once again trying to find a beginner's yoga class, I turned around to see Lucy demonstrating an almost perfect mastery of the flexibility of yoga. At first glance, she's all fur and feet. How in the world do they do it?

Apparently, cats are so flexible, in part, because of the way their skeletons are constructed. They have backs that are designed to stretch and bend, so they can extend to their full length when running and therefore reach top speed in just a few moments. They also have shoulder blades that are attached only by cords of muscle, and they don't have big collarbones, so they can hold their arms in strange positions and squeeze in tight spaces. No wonder they're yoga masters! I'll bet they still couldn't handle instructions in class, however.

I'm not the only person, by far, to see this connection. This joke site (which I love) combines yoga, live cats and cat puppets. Check out a few of these videos when you need a chuckle.

While your cat may not be able to bark yoga terms at you, there is a way to let your cat be your yogi. For starters, look at how your cat sleeps and stretches. Try to replicate that move, to the best of your body's ability, and hold that pose for 15 seconds or so. Breathe deeply, in and out, as you hold that pose. And if your kitty moves, try to move, too.

It may not be yoga, per se, but it can be a form of moving meditation you do with your cat. And that could be good for your mind, if not your body. Plus, it's bonding time for you and your cat. Win win!