Why pet yoga is our new favourite workout

Katherine Brook

Kittens, puppies, and even bunnies, pet yoga is a new style of exercise class, combining the traditional art of yoga with the stress-relieving benefits of cuddling animals… and we love it.

Each Pets Yoga class is taught by a qualified yoga teacher, with animals from only ethical and caring pet owners, though you can bring your own pets with you if you wish.

Each session last 60 minutes, split up into playtime and yoga time. The first ten minutes of the class is spent getting to know the pets, be it adorable puppies, cute kittens or endearing little bunny rabbits. While the pets roam freely around the room, becoming familiar with their surroundings, participants have a chance to cuddle and play with them.

Read more: Beginner's guide to yoga

puppy yoga

The class then begins, just like any other yoga class; introductions, breathing techniques and stretches. There are a few health and safety instruction to follow too—including not holding your pet while in an unstable position, being aware of your surroundings when moving around the mat, and staying calm if they have an "accident."

The yoga class we tried was with seven little Shih Tzu puppies, just 12-weeks old. While we perfected our downward dog, the pups were scurrying about the yogis, nibbling toes and pulling hair. A welcomed distraction, which only added to the enjoyment of the experience.

After 20 minutes of yoga, the class then rests for another 10 minutes of pets play time, before continuing for the final 20 minutes of yoga. By this point, the pets have usually worn themselves out, taking comfort at the end of each person’s mat. In our case, most of the puppies were snoring sweetly, exhausted after all the excitement—much how we felt, it was hard not to curl up next to them.

puppy yoga

Though Pets Yoga may not be for the serious yogis among us, exercising with pets is incredibly relaxing and great for our mental wellbeing—it’s hard not to crack a smile as the puppies roll over on your mat, angling for a belly rub.

Imane Makrat (below), the founder of Pets Yoga, has always been a lover of animals, conscious of the number of advantages being around them has on a person’s mood and wellbeing. When she moved to London, however, she noticed that there were fewer opportunities to interact with animals in the city, which is where the idea came from: “I wanted to create a concept where people could spend time with pets in a relaxing environment—yoga was a natural choice.”

“Yoga is all about improving your mindset, releasing stress and negativity, and connecting with yourself, as well as improving a person’s health, fitness and flexibility. Pets Yoga aims to enhance this; combining the benefits of traditional yoga with that of bonding with animals.”

And the pets benefit too. “Socialising is a very important step in an animals life,” says Imane. “We offer them to chance to learn, from a young age, how to interact with people in a safe and calm environment—this is why we have 'play time’ in between yoga exercises because it is just as important for the pets to have the interaction too. The pets have everything they need; food, water, toys—though most of them are more interested in the guests.”

founder of Pets Yoga

The Pets Yoga Club is based in London, with classes taking place at different locations in the city. As this brilliant new concept continues to grow, Imane hopes to expand Pets Yoga even further; working with charities and mental health organisations, in particular, to show just how therapeutic Pets Yoga can be.

Fancy giving Pets Yoga a try? First, you need to register for your spot on the website, then they will email you ten days before the event, with the exact location (in London)—if you aren’t happy with the location, you are entitled to a refund at least three days before the event.

For those looking to escape the skyscrapers for the day, The Runnymede Hotel in Surrey will also be offering Pets Yoga classes, this summer. Situated right by the Thames, this is a lovely spot to spend a sunny afternoon; take a stroll down the river, enjoy a relaxing boat ride or enjoy some delicious food and drinks, at the pop-up riverside bar.