Cat-ch the cat yoga trend with ELAINE CHENG
Along the Singapore River, 13 resident cats roam a cosy café to their heart’s content. Purring fills the air of the calm and quiet atmosphere. While some people step in to enjoy the company of felines with food and drinks, others come to enjoy something unconventional.
Cat café Neko No Niwa provides the cats and space to host yoga sessions, while White Cat Yoga invites yoga instructors. This collaboration allows Singaporeans to experience cat yoga.
Innovations like these add zest to exercise. While the concept seems bizarre, these furry friends increase the amount of endorphins released by the brain during exercise.
A study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that the act of cuddling animals creates a hormonal response that helps to fight depression . Practising yoga helps to reduce high blood pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, and lower cardiovascular risk factors . Combining the benefits of both, cat yoga came to life.
Ms Hazel Kok, 38, Director of White Cat Yoga, says: “It really just unwinds you. You’re [also] able to stay in the [yoga] posture in a happier state for a longer time.”
“Cat yoga is an easy way to encourage people to start building a healthy lifestyle,” says 18-year-old student AngYuet, who practices yoga at home.
Before hitting our shores, the popular trend was practiced in various states of America, such as New York, San Francisco and Alabama . When it caught on to Singapore, sessions occurred monthly but then reduced to twice this year.
Reservations are required to join the fun since each class can only accommodate a maximum of 13 people. If the minimum of 10 attendees aren’t met, it’ll be cancelled.
Unlike usual yoga, cat yoga doesn’t include difficult poses. You can interact with the cats whenever you wish.
While it’s possible to experience cat yoga by yourself with a mat and a cat by your side, attending official sessions allows you to socialise with other cat yoga lovers and learn more about the exercise. According to Ms Kok, “you get to ask questions when you don’t understand [the poses]!”
Ultimately, the activity is open to anybody who wishes to enjoy themselves. Through cat yoga, Ms Kok is on a mission to reinvent what people think about yoga.
“[I want] to spread the message that yoga is for everyone,” says Ms Kok. “You don’t need to have a very flexible or very strong body to do yoga. Anybody can do it!”
Ms Hazel with resident cat from Neko No Niwa, photo provided by Ms Hazel
A cat yoga client with a resident cat from Neko No Niwa, photo provided by Ms Hazel
Ms Hazel (front left) with her class during a Christmas yoga session with the cats, photo provided by Ms Hazel