Meet Yoga Cats

Est. 2017. No downward dogs, please: Felines rule the room at a yoga class in an Irvington studio.
It was actually a guy who came up with the idea. Somebody in the men’s yoga class at Irvington Wellness Center suggested incorporating cats into the breathing-and-stretching sessions. And when instructor Gaynell Collier-Magar did a little sleuthing, she found out “cat yoga” was indeed a thing. What’s more, she loved the idea.

And thus Indy’s first cat-yoga class was born. Now, about once every two months, Collier-Magar’s students do sun salutations and sit in lotus position as tiny balls of fluff hurtle past bare feet. Newcomers file in with their yoga mats, faces breaking into smiles as they watch the felines frolic.

Cats on Mats sessions are held on the occasional Saturday afternoon at IWC. The animals all come from a local rescue group, Kitty Castaways, most of them kittens who come to play—and, sometimes, get adopted by a fellow yoga practitioner. Even when no adoptions happen, the sessions still benefit the cats. Classes cost $17; IWC donates $5 of that to the rescue, and the teacher’s share ($6) goes to it, too. Thus far, eight cats have been adopted, and $1,600 has been raised.

So are these eerily gifted felines who can bust out poses alongside their human classmates? Well, no. Let’s be honest, these guys are coasting on their charm. But in their own way, they help, because yoga is all about letting go and existing in the moment—and who can resist doing that when a fluffy kitten is lying on your chest? If you don’t mind a little cat hair floating around you as you relax into child’s pose, it’s fun to share the moment with them. After all, cats have some natural yoga talent—when it’s time for savasana, a relaxation pose at the end, these felines are at the head of the class.