I’m A Yogi But Honestly Learned 5 Major Self-Care Lessons From My Cat

Written by Karin Ahlin

Image by Miachel Breton / mbg Creative

As a yoga teacher, I’m always reminding my students about mindfulness. What that looks like as a personal practice differs from person to person, but as a cat mom, I’ve noticed that cats are naturals when it comes to taking care of themselves. Read on for five mindful self-care lessons I’ve picked up from my Persian cat Gravy.

1. Find a balance between movement and stillness. 

When I got Gravy as a kitten six years ago, she immediately became my yoga (meowga) partner and teacher. Gravy, naturally flexible as she is, inspires me to stretch every single day. Even when she was a kitten, I’d roll out my yoga mat, and she would join me for a flow (and sometimes give me paws-on assists). See #healingpawsbygraveskull to know what I mean. 

On the other hand, cats spend a majority of their day sleeping. As a New Yorker, life definitely gets stressful constantly rushing from Point A to B, and Gravy’s chill mood helps me remember to slow down and incorporate rest into my day. And spending time with my cat, for me, is the best way to calm down.

2. Practice a daily ritual and make it routine.

Cats love cleaning themselves and do so countless times each day. It's a lesson in devotion, although my ritual doesn't take up as much time. So now, I’ve made it habit to draw a hot bath to get clean and relax after a long day. Gravy (a.k.a. The Bathroom Inspector) keeps me company. She’ll tuck in her paws like a little loaf and lay on the floor next to the bathtub and remind me that there’s no such thing as privacy when you live with a cat.

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3. Eat nourishing food. 

Image by Miachel Breton / mbg Creative

It’s true what they say: You have to nourish to flourish. And for me, taking care of Gravy has highlighted the importance of eating healthy and being mindful of the quality and source of our food. I made poor food choices before I began practicing yoga, but quickly realized something had to change. Not only for myself, but for my whole family!

As most fur parents do, I started researching the best sources of protein and nutrition for my cat, and that’s how I learned about “I and love and you”. We, both humans and cats, were gifted with just one body (not nine…) and we need to treat it as a temple, so nutritious food is important to thriving. The “I and love and you” grain-free Naked Essentials kibble for cats is made with real meat and even has prebiotics and probiotics right in the food so Gravy stays full with all the good stuff and nothing weird.

If I only get to pet and love her for three seconds before she’s off to new adventures, I am still happy.

4. Take joy in simple pleasures.

The feels when you unpackage lavish products like a costly cat tree for your cat’s entertainment, only to find that your pet prefers the cardboard box it came in: Every cat parent knows it. Gravy taught me that you definitely don’t need fancy, expensive toys in excessive amounts in order to have fun—often what you already have is all you need. I see her playing with crinkled paper, pens, bottle caps and still, she has a blast. All we need is ourselves and our imagination!

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5. Love without expectations.

Image by Miachel Breton / mbg Creative

Cat parents, you hear me on this? I love Gravy to the moon and back, but cats will do whatever they want, whenever they want. Want to cuddle with a cat? You need to wait until they come to you (which makes you extra happy when they do). 

Spending time with those you love brings so much joy—even if I only get to pet and love Gravy for three seconds before she’s off to new adventures, I am still happy. Just taking a moment, being close to her, and hearing her purrs is one of the best feelings in the world.

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