By Cindy Arboleda Miami Herald
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Welcome to "Meowmaste" a cat loving Yogi's delight, where class participants are surrounded by felines
If you told Jessica Almendares she'd spend her Saturday afternoon doing yoga surrounded by tiny felines three years ago, she'd probably laugh and say, "No way, I hate cats."
But Almendares was upfront at the Meowmaste: Yoga with Cats! workshop Saturday at Miami-Dade Animal Services Pet Adoption and Protection Center in Doral.
"I was never a cat person, then I adopted my first kitty three years ago and my life changed for the better," she said. "Cats are so sweet and loving. They are terrific pets that care and love you so much."
Almendares adopted her second cat at the Miami-Dade Animal Services Pet Adoption and Protection Center in Doral and became a regular volunteer. "When I heard they were mixing it up doing yoga with cats I got very excited, I couldn't miss it," she said.
The idea to practice the Downward-Facing Dog yoga pose among cats came to Tara Smith, who for her yoga-teacher training program had to organize a yoga-related project in her community.
"I immediately thought of this shelter," Smith said. "I was a big part of building this shelter and its opening last year. I knew how beautiful it is and I wanted to bring exposure to it."
Smith is a 500-hour certified yoga teacher. She is also the director of internal services for Miami-Dade County.
"I did some research and found that nobody had done a yoga class with cats in Miami before," Smith said. "I have a passion for yoga, a passion for cats and I love my public service job."
Miami-Dade Animal Services Pet Adoption and Protection Center opened last June. The center holds more than 80 events per month, from low-cost spay and neuter to adoption drives.
"We house and provide care for over 300 furry four-legged friends eager to go to a loving forever home," said Ruben Arce, the center's events coordinator. "We want the community to know that it is affordable to provide for the care their pets need, as little as $15 for a vaccine."