If you want to be calm yet energized, the cat-cow yoga pose will give you that invigorating feeling you’re looking for.
This gentle, flowing movement between two combined poses (cat and cow) warms up your body and stretches out your spine.
You probably picked up that cat pose, also known as Marjaryasana, is one half of the movement. And you’ve likely deduced that cow pose, also known as Bitilasana, is the other half. You may have even done both of these in a yoga class before.
This is a powerful pose you can do any time of day, even if you’re not a yoga practitioner. Are you ready to get that spark of energy?
The Benefits of Cat-Cow Pose
- Emotionally, the pose can help release anger, shame, and addictive cravings by allowing energy to flow through the Sacral chakra.
- The pose can stimulate creativity and help regain libido.
- Physically, it can help digestion by stimulating the internal organs and strengthening the stomach muscles.
- It will tone the back and neck to help you stay in alignment and improve your posture, preventing you from feeling fatigued.
- It can help reduce the tightness that can cause pain in your lower back from sitting.
- Spine strength and flexibility will increase, releasing synovial fluid to prevent stiffness and activating all the chakras.
- The pose is energizing and releases negativity. It helps clear energetic blocks and adds strength to your nervous system to help handle stress.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Cat-Cow Pose
First of all, how does someone get into this pose?
You’ll want to practice on a mat or soft surface to protect your knees and wrist joints.
Begin on all fours with your wrists directly under your elbows and knees directly under your hips about seven inches apart. Keep your toes tucked to help stabilize you in the pose as you move and close your eyes, so you do not get dizzy.
Start with a neutral spine as if your back were a flat table in line with your neck.
Interested in pursuing a yoga type that focuses on alignment? Read this next: The Beginner’s Guide to Hatha Yoga
Breathing out slowly through your nose, pull your belly button in towards your spine as you round your back and tilt the tailbone down.
Allow the chin to tuck in towards the chest as you feel the full extension of your spine in the cat pose.
Exhale through your nose as you move through a neutral position into an arched position with your belly dropped towards the floor. Your tailbone points up, and your sternum pulls forward and up slightly as you stretch the front of the neck and look up gently.
Focus on linking breath to movement, and go at a comfortable pace, gradually increasing speed.
Breathe deeply, knowing that the deeper you breathe, the more prana you are giving to your chakras. Continue for three minutes if you have no pain, and eventually, you can work up to ten.
Be gentle as you move your neck back, not pushing back too far, and keep your arms straight to remain stable in the pose.
Cat-Cow Pose Modifications
- If you have sensitive knees, feel free to place a blanket under them for an additional cushion.
- Try the pose while sitting in your office chair – simply place your hands on your knees and move your spine throughout your day.
- Place your forearms on your mat, rather than holding yourself up with your wrists if this causes pain.
Get the Full Benefits of Cat-Cow Pose
The longer and more consistently you do it, the more benefits you’ll receive from the cat-cow pose.
For example, if you do ten minutes every day for a month, you’re likely to notice a much bigger shift than if you do it for one minute a few times per week. Really stretch your spine and move from the navel, with your abs being the main focus.
Use the power of your breath and breathe loudly and deeply to see how it gives your brain a boost!
Finally, pair it with other yoga poses to round out your practice with poses that target each chakra.
Article by: Shannon Yrizarry
Shannon is the author of two books published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Psychic Yoga and Modern Guide to Meditation Beads.