'Be in the meow' with kitten yoga

Every yoga class has a few downward dogs, but how about a cat stretch? We check out a class full of cuddly kittens.

Welcome to the world’s cutest yoga class

Striking a purrfect pose at kitten yoga in St. John's. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Every yoga class has a few downward dogs, but have you ever seen yoga with cuddly kittens?

"The cuteness factor of the class is definitely heightened," says instructor Laura-Beth Power. For the past year, she's been holding 'kitten yoga' classes in St. John's. "You've heard of animal therapy," says Power. "And then there's yoga therapy. So blending the two really made sense in my mind."

It starts like any other yoga class. Participants fill up the floor with mats and water bottles, and start getting loose. But things get hairy in a hurry. When the door to an animal crate is opened, six feisty kitties spring out, eager to explore. They roam the room, meowing with abandon and rubbing up on any outstretched appendages.

Then the yoga begins.

"Widen your knees," Power calls out to the group. "Watch out for little kittens behind you as you sink your hips back towards your heels."

A room full of adults, kids and those in between follow Power's lead, trying to hold their balance while stifling a giggle fit.

"Maybe even close your eyes, and if a little furry friend brushes by your arm, just enjoy that moment...and let it go." she says.

For some cuteness overload, watch the video below.

Be in the meow

It may not be the calm and tranquil atmosphere that yogis are used to, but Power says kitten yoga is still yoga.

"The kittens definitely add an extra distraction to the practice." she says. "But they add a playfulness and a joyfulness that sometimes a very serious yoga class may be lacking. When that kitten comes up and brushes against your arm, you're with it. You're feeling that moment, and that is being present. Our whole motto, 'Be in the Meow'. Be in the now."

Amanda Power is taking kitten yoga for the first time. She says that staying present here is about more than good practice. "It's ok if you're at home and you can't do a pose and you fall down on your butt." she says. "But here you don't want to fall on a kitten, so you have to be very mindful of everything you're doing. But it's very adorable."

Kittens and homes

Kitten yoga is not only adorable. It's an outreach program that helps homeless kittens find loving families. Amy Vincent is with the St. John's SPCA. She says the kittens are all adoptable, and that meeting them in yoga class is very different than the animal shelter.

"When you're at the shelter, you don't necessarily get to see what the cat's personalities are like." says Vincent. "Sometimes they're stressed, they are spending time in the cage. But when they come in here, and they really get to hang around and just be kittens, you really get to see what their true nature is and what they're going to be like in a home, how they're to act with your kids. Things like that."

PetSmart Charities of Canada donated $15,000 to the kitten yoga program, as part of a Canada 150 commemorative grant. Vincent says she the program is offering people something special. She can tell by the looks on their faces every time a kitten curls up on a yoga mat.

"I think we really need to keep going. It's not just doing good things for our animals," she says, "but it's really doing good things for the community that decide to come to these yoga (classes) as well."