Na-meow-ste: yoga for pets

The idea of pets doing yoga isn't that far-fetched; many of the poses take their names from animals, of course, and if you've ever spent even five minutes with a cat, you've seen them perform challenging stretches and inversions with ease. (If you've ever tried to do yoga in your living room with a cat, you also know that they can make it very difficult to empty the mind, or maintain a one-legged pose. But! Not impossible, as a recent viral video starring a sun-salutationing practitioner and her determinedly loving calico demonstrated.) There's a reason products like Rick Tillotson's Cat Yoga Postcards, or the Yoga Cat calendars, sell so well.

And that reason is: they're funny...or so we thought. A handful of news items indicate that some animal-yoga devotees are totally serious about bringing the mind-body benefits of this ancient practice to their companion animals; not just cats, but dogs and horses, have gotten in on the (balancing) act. "Doga," already popular in Japan, has now come to Hong Kong; the dogs in this video don't seem terribly focused on their technique, but as one owner explained, Hong Kong pooches aren't allowed in parks, so a doga class offers them an opportunity to get some exercise. (Or, as the narrator dryly observed, to nap during corpse pose.)

Here in the U.S., doga is already well entrenched, with human/hound yoga classes available in Austin TX, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. But it's one thing for Yoga Journal to recommend incorporating dogs into our yoga routines; when it comes to cats, they must be kidding, right? Dogs will obey, or mirror our behavior. Cats will pull a ticklish tail across the soles of our feet during bow pose.

As it turns out, most of the yoga "for" cats we found -- the videos at; the Yoga With Cats "instructions" that advise readers on how to bend around cats in your sleep -- does seem to be tongue-in-cheek.

Not joking: Dr. Hannah Evergreen, currently leading a yoga class for horses in the Seattle area. She admits that the animals are still "getting the hang of" the poses, but Evergreen also provides acupuncture and chiropractic services for her equine clients, so this isn't a huge departure for her -- or for the horses, many of whom compete in dressage (or "horse ballet") events.

So is it a natural progression for owners who care about their chakras and their pets? Or is it taking it too far? It's probably not hurting anyone, but when the first moisture-wicking fold-over-waisted yoga pants for pooches roll off the assembly line, we're moving to a cave in the mountains.

Thanks to Sarah B. Weir for her assistance on this story!

Further reading:
High-end doggie day-care doesn't downsize
Study questions yoga's mental-health benefits
Do animals smile?