That’s how many cats I have, which means I have two bodies to fling off my mat every time I lay it down.
Each time it’s the same routine: I unroll my mat. The cats proceed to lay on it and sometimes bathe themselves. I pick them up and put them in the bathroom until I finish my practice.
This morning was different, though. This morning was a victory! I made it through my practice almost completely unbothered.
By the time I was finished, Cozy was perched in the window looking at whatever, and Dharma (his name was inspired by my yoga journey and not the TV show character) was stretched out on a tray table watching me. I almost couldn’t believe it.
I try really hard not to compare raising kittens to raising children, but sometimes I feel like there could be similarities. I felt bad “punishing” them by tossing them in the bathroom when they wouldn’t act right…wouldn’t leave me alone…wouldn’t be quiet when I was attempting to do yoga.
I wanted them to learn there are “consequences and repercussions” to playing on my yoga mat, but the bathroom trick was only a temporary, quick fix.
I know I can’t do that to a human, or if I did, it would be cruel. That’s not the kind of mother I want to be. Locking children in bathrooms is not a habit I want to have. So, I had to figure out how the hell do I train cats to stay off my mat?
Remember: They are babies and they learn what I teach.
I rescued my cats from a dumpster, yo. I am their first introduction to this cool, squishy toy also known as a yoga mat. They naturally knew what to do with the litter box, but teaching them about a yoga mat required just that – teaching. It took more work than putting them in the bathroom, but was worth it in the long run.
Show that the yoga mat is for me, not them.
This required some learning and patience on my part. A LOT of patience on my part. I started putting out my mat and not putting them in the bathroom. I kept doing my practice, even when they played with my toes in Warrior or crawled under me when I got into Down Dog. I did my best to ignore them or would politely move them out the way over and over and over again.
Demonstrate the benefits of staying off my mat.
“If you stay off my mat, you will stay out of the bathroom!” I think the cats finally started making a connection that if they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone. I remember one practice they chased each other across the apartment the entire time. It was like they didn’t even know I was there. Having a cat run across your stomach while you’re in Savasana isn’t the greatest feeling, but it was progress.
It’s taken some time, but my babies and I have a reached an understanding about the yoga mat. Today was beautiful. It’s true that you teach people (and in my case, animals) how to treat you. It takes effort, CONSISTENT effort, but eventually they learn.