Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review: Cat Yoga at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

Photograph by Emma Younger

Written by Emma Younger

Apart from the succinct smell of litter trays that fill your nose while posing on the yoga mats, Lady Dinah’s cat yoga is a true delight. Standing at £15 a class, it beats other yoga classes in the area on value-for-money. The Emporium also stands as the only place in the UK to offer cat yoga sessions.

For first-timers and experienced yoga fans, Lady Dinah’s offers the best of both worlds - a getaway sanctuary as good as those you’d pay a fortune for at the fraction of the price. Whether you simply want to try something out-of-the-ordinary, or just have a love for felines, the experience is well-worth-it. Plus, you get to eat cake at the end - its a win win.
Since opening its doors in Shoreditch, East London last year, the UK’s first cat café has gone from giving its feline friendly guests a wealth of cakes, teas and treats to hosting an experience all the more hands-on. Taking inspiration from Tokyo’s thriving cat café culture that has since spread to China, Lady Dinah’s aims to give city dwellers a stress release from the nine-to-five slog.

Lady Dinah’s is just one of many venues across the globe carrying the phenomenon on. With the aim of not only saving stray cats from a lonely life on London’s streets, it also gives animal lovers in the city a chance to relax and enjoy the comforts of kitty cuddles.

The café’s latest measure to provide tranquility to the capital is through their genius cat yoga classes - yes, cat yoga. Whilst you may think this means doing yoga with the cats themselves, and lifting them up to the sky as if they’re Simba, you’re sadly mistaken. You still have to do some exercise yourself - sorry.

Yoga’s ancient practices have long-served young professionals, exercise enthusiasts and those in need of some zen. With its powers to stretch out the inflexible and relax the mind, its no wonder its popularity has grown to all corners of the city. At Lady Dinah’s, you can expect to swap the sweaty t-zone workout for more of a fluffy retreat. The usual yoga mat and Child’s Pose rules still apply, but with the difference of having many cuddly friends running around beside you.

Photograph by Emma Younger
As you enter the café from the commotion of the main road, a Victorian-style haven greAs you enter the café from the commotion of the main road, a Victorian-style haven greets you. The walls are covered in kitty memorabilia - instantly making you forget about the horrors of the day gone by. Warming staff welcome to you the Emporium - providing a tour and briefing of how to treat the café’s feline residents as you meet them - name one yoga class that starts off with an animal welfare briefing!?

The small class of mixed-aged professionals is led downstairs to a room filled with happy cats - a feline enthusiast’s dream. If by this time you’re not an animal lover, this is the get-out-gate opportunity. Emporium celebrity Wookie struts by expecting his Persian tail to get the attention of whiskered-eyed folk who’ve come for their cuddles.

After playing with the cats and getting a selfie with them, you’ve almost forgotten that you’ve come for a workout. In typical yoga fashion, you’re taken through breathing exercises to bring calmness to the body - in fact, you almost forget the noises of London out of the window. There’s a sense of “I-could-fall-asleep-any-second” in the room. Even moggy Carbonelle is spotted with a sea of “awww” in the room asleep in a cotton-rich basket.

What is most satisfying is that the class is designed for those at any level of yoga experience. The instructor puts you at ease to work at your pace. For most that seemed to be a welcomed phrase. You’re taken through a range of poses, including the infamous Dog Pose which sees you throw your bum into the skies - trying not to feel embarrassed if you’ve not shaved your legs that day. 

The class is an hour-and-a-half long, so be prepared to feel the burn in your thighs and abs. Don’t worry though, as it concludes with the favourite Shavasana - an end of yoga relaxation that sees you lie on the mat and give yourself a big cuddle in the dark. There’s no time to fall into a deep sleep though, as the Emporium post-yoga treats are enough to revive anyone.
Staff lead the group back up to the main part of the café where enormous peanut butter Victoria sponge cakes, herbal teas and scones await. Whilst they are possibly the most delicious you’ll ever try, it does make you wonder as to why you just spent an hour working your butt off to then pile the calories back on.

Be warned though, as your kitty companions will know that you’ve been stroking other cats when you return home to them. Spraying yourself with fragrance is advisory for avoiding worried looking cat eyes. If you’re without a pet, then go ahead, stroke away.

Whilst you may not go home dreaming of cats for days, you’re left with a warm feeling. The café is first and foremost a place for the animals to have a second chance. The glorious food and tea is just an added bonus for all sugar foodies.

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