Emmanuelle Rousseau and Boyd Thomson are not only serious yogis; they’re serious cat people. The couple owns Stretch Yoga (180 East Pender), and in celebration of Halloween, they are hosting their second #catsonyourmats event.
Yes, you read that right—cats will join 25 people in the studio as they practice yoga on Sunday morning (October 25).
“My favourite thing about having a studio is that I can have these crazy ideas and actually do them,” said Rousseau, who got the idea to create a cat yoga class this past summer after watching a viral video about a similar event.
Rousseau and Boyd have teamed up with grassroots organization Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) to host the event. VOKRA will be supplying roughly a dozen black cats, each of which will be available for adoption following the Sunday morning classes.
“I heard from VOKRA that black cats don’t get adopted very often, so I thought, ‘let’s do an event just for black cats for Halloween’,” said Rouseau.
VOKRA is a non-profit charity dedicated to rescuing cats and kittens in the Lower Mainland. Instead of housing abandoned cats in a shelter, the organization uses over 350 foster homes to house rescued felines. Last year alone, VOKRA cared for nearly 2,000 orphaned and abandoned cats.
Rousseau and Boyd hosted a similar class at Stretch in September, and following the event, all eight participating cats were adopted.
“It was quite amazing—most of the people that came to that class had never done cat yoga before,” Rousseau said. “A lot of people come because they either can’t have a cat of their own, or they’re interested in getting one.”
She said that the mood in the studio changes significantly when cats are in the room. Younger kittens run under limbs and over yoga blocks while older cats make themselves comfortable settling on mats. The atmosphere is more relaxed as participants try to balance their focus between playing with cats and perfecting their postures.
“It almost has a therapeutic side to it. People were visibly happy in class, smiling and laughing. Usually people are sitting tall and focusing on yoga,” said Rousseau. “Even though they’re doing a Vinyasa, they’re still interacting with the cats.”
Stretch will be holding two 75-minute cat yoga classes on Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Participants will pay $35 to take part in the class, with all funds raised going directly to VOKRA. Anyone attending the class is invited to wear all black or dress in costume.
While admission to Sunday’s classes sold out within 24 hours of announcing the event, Rousseau has plans for more cat yoga classes in winter and spring. Watch a video from September's #catsonyourmats event here.