I’ve always believed that my cats have been some of my greatest teachers. They teach me every day! Your cats may, too, if you’re like me and look for the lessons and the many special moments that come with spending time with a cat. If you love having your very own teachers, look no further than your cat!
Besides being a writer and a cat lover, I am a yoga teacher. Cats and yoga go quite naturally together. Cats seem to love yoga. When I roll out my mat and start my daily practice, the cats are right there joining me.
But cats take yoga to a deeper level. In addition to loving doing yoga poses with me, they also model some of the tenets of yoga. They do an incredible job of this — much better than I do, on some days.
1. Stretchhhh …
You’ll feel better. In fact, you’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel if you add some stretching into your life. Just watch your cat. She stretches all the time. The stretching doesn’t have to be complicated to have benefit, and even a little bit will go a long way. (There are many complex yoga poses that I can’t do, and I haven’t been able to cross my feet behind my head yet. But any stretching is a terrific benefit.)
Why do cats look so good into their old age? It’s all the stretching they do, of course. (It offsets all the napping they also do.) You’ll improve the quality of your life, too, by implementing the wisdom of cats!
2. Live in the moment
Don’t waste your time worrying about the past or the future — it’s pointless, futile, and sucks your valuable life energy. Instead, model after your cat. Watch your cat. She definitely lives in the now. She doesn’t worry about whether she’s going to catch a fly. Instead, she naps, wakes up suddenly, jumps for the fly, eats it, and settles back down into the moment — all very gracefully and effectively. We humans could learn a lot from watching our cats!
3. Practice non-attachment
You don’t see cats practicing road rage, do you? (Well, you might see behavior from cats that resembles very instantaneous road rage, but they get over it quickly.) At the risk of sounding anthropomorphic, it seems that cats flow through their emotions very quickly and efficiently.
As for non-attachment — wow. No living being does non-attachment like a cat. Just watch your cat when she doesn’t want to be bothered. She’s totally non-attached. We can’t really know what goes on in a cat’s head, but we can certainly model the calm, cool, and non-attached nature of a cat!
How to practice non-attachment? It starts by paying attention to the patterns in your mind. If something happens and you notice the urgency of emotion kicking in, try to get to a neutral place in your mind. This becomes easier with practice. For example, if someone cuts you off on the road, instead of immediately reacting with rage, try to breathe and go to a neutral place. You don’t have to love that the incident happened, but you don’t have to give yourself emotional aggravation, either. Just watch your cat — she’ll teach you how to glide through life!
If we all napped and stretched as much as cats do, we’d probably be a more well-adjusted species! Watch your cat when she naps. She takes a deep, deep breath, and you’ll see her ribcage expand and contract. We humans, on the other hand, spend a lot of time doing very shallow breathing. This type of breathing actually creates more stress on top of the stress we already live with. So watch your cat, and follow her example — do deep breathing and see how instantly you feel a lot better and a lot less stressed.
5. Stare at something endlessly and meditate
Watch how calm and focused your cat is when he stares at something endlessly. You can do this, too. You can call it meditating, or not — it doesn’t really matter. Pick an object (candle, tree, cat?) and stare at it, breathing deeply. If your mind wants to wander, just keep bringing your attention back to the object. At the very least, you’ll learn a lot about yourself!
Cats are here for a reason, and there is much they can teach us. In the realm of yoga, cats have plenty to show us. So watch your cat, and who knows? Maybe you can leave stress and frustration behind for good!
What does your cat teach you — yoga-wise and otherwise? What do you learn from your cat? Share your stories in comments!
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