By Sylvia Lee
A small inner-city café is being inundated with yogis looking for the ultimate way to chill out and let go.
From die hard yogis to curious beginners, Sydneysiders can’t get enough of the meditative, calming effects the cats in the café have on their energy centres.
Catmosphere is a space-themed cat café. People can play with the cats whilst enjoying a coffee or participating in their weekly yoga sessions.
“Psychological studies have shown that spending as little as 15 minutes a day with cats can dramatically lower stress levels and similarly, people have been turning to yoga as a method of stress relief for years, so combining the two just seemed perfect,” said co-owner Thomas Derricott.
Because participants are doing yoga in a room full of cats, they often find themselves in a “yoga experience that’s equal part yoga and part twister” as they try to manoeuvre their way around the intrepid cats (known as ‘catstronauts’), who “decide every week that the yoga mats are their new scratching posts” and sometimes assume the ironic downward-facing dog pose.
Self-confessed “crazy cat lady” and yoga instructor Annebelle van Tongeren says the yoga class takes inspiration from the fluid physicality of the cats, “in how they move, in how they stand, in the isolation of every little vertebra when they’re moving.
“There’s a lot we can draw on by gazing at a cat to improve how we hold our postures. They are so good at balancing and at landing on their feet and you know, being resilient, which I think is important in the yoga practice.
“But the biggest thing is letting people get a sense of what cats do all the time, this inner purr that I get into in the practice, which is coming into a sense of stillness, of an internal perspective and it’s what we set up for meditation (at the end of the class).
“They go into long spells of sitting through the day and they’re just in that meditative space so I think it makes perfect sense then, to bring yoga into an environment with cats.
Catmosphere was inspired by a trip the co-owners Thomas Derricott and Wenee Yap took to Chiang Mai, where like many parts of Asia, cat cafés are immensely popular, and where they discovered a conceptually similar cat café that “just made sense”.
Through a partnership with animal welfare group the World League for Protection of Animals, they hope to provide a foster home for rescue cats and shed light on the problem of stray cats in Sydney. Yes, you can adopt the Space Academy rescue kittens and adult catstronauts.
Head to http://www.catmospherecafe.com/ to make a booking and find your inner purr.
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