6 Lessons Your Cat Can Teach You About Yoga
Have you ever noticed how much animals love interrupting your yoga practice? Cats in particular. Sometimes, I’ll lay out my mat on the living room floor and walk away for just a moment, only to return and find my cat curled up on the center of it. There are endless videos and funny pictures out there of cats lovably walking underneath yogi’s bridges, through their downward dogs, and kissing their faces while they try to keep their focus in an inversion.
If you’ve ever felt like perhaps these frisky felines know a thing or two about yoga themselves, you’re not alone. Their nature seems to complement some of the most powerful lessons of the ancient practice.
Here are 6 lessons your cat can teach you about yoga.
1. Stretch yourself, but not too thin
In today’s society, it’s easy to get caught up in the busybody mentality of life, even when you’re practicing yoga. Our western world loves a good power flow to build heat, get a sweat, and burn some calories in record time so we can get on with our jam-packed day. But stretching is important, too. And if you pay attention, cats don’t take too many steps without a good stretch. After all, it paves the way for proper posture, better blood flow and overall confidence.
2. Dust yourself off and try again
Cats have this incredible ability to leap to unheard of heights and somehow land on their feet. But every now and then, they miss a step and slip off their landing pad, only to reemerge with confusion through a cloud of stars. But you can bet they’ll shake it off, walk away and try again moments later. They pay no mind to failure, and nor should you when it comes to falling out of that pose you so badly want to conquer.
3. Take up space
We’ve come to see our yoga mats as the ultimate confinement of our practice. But imagine if you didn’t have a mat. Oh the places you’d go. Cats stop, drop and roll wherever they so choose, because it feels good. Try expanding your limbs to new lengths and watch your yoga practice grow.
4. Let it go
Practicing nonattachment is a surefire way to break through boundaries. Cats keep it cool by coming and going as they please. They love nothing more than a good purr at your feet or in your arms, but should they feel like they’ve had enough, they’ll be scrambling off in no time. In yoga, it can be easy to let one pose, one sequence, or one distracting thought consume you. But holding onto it, good or bad, can hinder you from experiencing the other moments that contribute to the overall beauty of your yoga practice.
5. Find your focus
Is there a fly on the wall? A mouse hiding out? Cats don’t simply jump into action. They take their time, staring endlessly at their target, making their move when they feel the most confident yet most relaxed. Finding a point of focus allows not just your eyes to seek steadiness and allow for better physical balance, but mental balance as well. You are essentially meditating by letting go of distractions to reach your deepest, best self through a yoga pose.
It seems like such a simple statement, but we are constantly reminding ourselves to follow through with the task of breathing…consciously. Shallow breathing actually leads to stress. Watch a cat as they nap or bask in the sun’s rays. You can see their ribcage expand and contract as they breathe deeply. Doing so promotes calmness and relaxation – something we could all use a little more of.
Pets serve many purposes in our lives, one of them being to teach us lessons through their simple actions. From their affection to their mannerisms, we can learn a lot about how they’ve got life down. For yoga, sometimes it takes a little outside observation to get back to the basics. If you take a moment to observe your cat, you may find their wisdom runs deep and can provide you the tools to be your best yogi-self yet.
Has your cat taught you any lessons that have enhanced your yoga practice? Please share stories and/or photos in the comments below. Meow!