By: Julie Pike, Staff Writer
Imagine bending into downward dog as a tiny kitten scampers underneath you, or extending into sun salutation while another kitten brushes up against your feet.
This describes the experience of those who attended the Kitten Yoga event to benefit the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP) on Saturday, Feb. 4. The event took place at Creating Space Yoga on 1717 Congress St.
All of the proceeds from the event went directly to the ARLGP. Each of the nine kittens that were brought to the event were also available for adoption.
The kittens had recently arrived from West Virginia and ranged in ages from six months to one year old. Their curiosity turned into mischief as they explored the yoga studio, climbed all over the place, used yoga mats as scratching posts and played with their toys.
Carol Coulson, the owner of Creating Space Yoga, said that having dogs and cats around adds to the therapeutic effect that yoga already provides. Coulson also said she hopes her studio can put on similar events in the future.
“It’s a great cause and we’re happy to help the community in any way that we can,” Coulson said.
The executive director of the ARLGP, Patsy Murphy, stated that this was the shelter’s second year partnering with Creating Space Yoga.
“The first year we held a donation at the studio and last month we heard from several people that they would love to see a kitten yoga event,” Murphy said.
One of those people who spoke in support of the ARLGP holding a kitten yoga event was a Westbrook resident, Veronica Newport, who is a regular at Creating Space Yoga. She had attended a similar event and thought it would be a great idea to have one at the yoga studio.
“Having cats here brings a sense of comic relief, providing lots of giggles and laughs,” Newport said. “Having the kittens here helps people who were wary or nervous about yoga by helping them come out of their shell.”
With 40 people in attendance, the studio had a full house. Murphy stated that, due to the event’s popularity, they had to begin turning people away..
“This [was] a large crowd for us and it’s something we’d like to continue as we can see the value and benefit of pets to people,” Murphy said.
A resident of Portland, Ariana, who attended the event agreed that the class benefited from having the kittens around.
“Having the kittens around is really calming,” Ariana said. “They add a sense of lightness to yoga because of their playfulness.”
Monique Gaudette, also a resident of Portland, stated that she thought the cats were a bit distracting, but in a good way.
“The kittens provided an interesting mix to the yoga class, which is generally more quiet and calm,” Gaudette said. “It was fun to have the cats running around the studio.”
Murphy stated that the success of the event has showed the ARLGP that these sorts of events are good for raising the public’s awareness about the shelter.
Those who missed out on the chance to attend kitten yoga can look forward to the ARLGP holding similar events in the future.
“We do plan to do this again,” Murphy stated. “We’d also love to do a puppy yoga event. We think puppies and kittens have a natural affinity for the practice of yoga. We’ve seen lots of smiles here today, folks have had reduced stress levels with the playful kittens here.”
Not only was the event enjoyable for those who attended, it also benefited an important non-profit organization in the community. Aside from the large donation the ARLGP received, the event also helped those kittens find a good home.