This age-old practice helps save lives (hint: namaste)
There’s a lot to be said for getting centered. Heck, ask any animal lover and we will likely all agree that spending time with our cherished pets is a surefire way to do just that. Hearing a cat purring loudly or watching a dog blissfully enjoying a belly rub allows us to set aside the hectic parts of the day and focus on the present. But what happens when you couple those Zen-inducing pet perks with the age-old, time-tested practice of heading for the yoga mat?
You get popular programs like NKLA’s yoga classes in L.A. with adoptable cats (called ME-OM), for one. And the Purrs and Poses classes at the Best Friends Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah, for another. You also get a rise in group “doga” classes — dogs and people doing yoga together — at nationwide events like Best Friends’ annual Strut Your Mutt fundraisers. Pig and goat yoga are gaining a following too. And why not?
Oh sure, the benefits to us human types are plentiful. We enjoy the health and wellness advantages that come with committing to time spent in lotus position, and we also get to spend quality time with ridiculously cute yoga buddies — adoptable pets. However, there are two beautiful sides to this new twist in yoga practice. The adoptable cats and dogs (and yes, even bunnies) who join us on the mat get to experience some extra socialization as well as interact with potential adopters, all in a calm and serene setting.
It’s not just our limbs that we are bending when we do a downward-facing dog beside an actual downward-facing dog, or when we do happy baby pose alongside a happy bunny. We’re bending our preconceived notions, too. For example, Best Friends’ Carrie Smith, manager of the Best Friends Visitor Center, says this about bunny yoga: “I wanted to have an event to showcase our adoptable bunnies and allow us the opportunity to talk to people who are considering buying a bunny. At the beginning of every class, I do a five-minute intro to discuss the misconceptions around bunnies and ask folks to consider adoption rather than buying.”
As much as the animals and the yogis get out of these classes, there’s one more thing they can all agree on: Every yoga class gets these pets one step closer to finding their forever om. (Sorry. We couldn’t resist.)
This article originally appeared in Best Friends magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine by becoming a Best Friends member.
Photos by Sarah Ause Kichas, Molly Wald and Stacey Axelrod