The cat cow pose is a yoga exercise that involves curving your back in two different ways. I use this posture as a wake me up in the morning and a warm up before exercise. I had a minor injury to my back and started doing this pose, I have not had a problem with it since. In fact I feel better than ever.
When you do it regularly it has many other benefits.
Cat Cow Pose Yoga Benefits
The Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana) has many benefits for beginners and advanced yogis, as well as for those who want a simple posture that will improve their health and well being.
Cat Cow Increases Spinal Flexibility
When you gently arch and round your spine in this pose, it helps increase spinal flexibility and mobility. It’s particularly beneficial if you sit for long periods and suffer from back stiffness.
Strengthens and Stretches the Spine and Neck
When practice this pose regularly it will strengthen the muscles of your spine and neck, while giving you a gentle stretch.
Cat Cow Pose Massages and Stimulates Organs
The Cat-Cow Pose gently massages the organs in your abdomen, this improves the health and function of the various internal organs.
I noticed this quickly. This pose improved my posture by strengthening spinal muscles, it will do the same for you.
Enhances Body Awareness
As you must synchronize your breath with the movement of your body, this pose increases your body awareness.
The coordinated movement with breath also helps calm the mind.
Prepares the Body for Activity
I and many others use the Cat-Cow Pose as a warm-up exercise in yoga classes (and for other exercises) because it awakens the spine and prepares the body for more challenging movements.
The contraction and expansion of the abdomen stimulate the digestive organs, potentially aiding in improved digestion.
Encourages Deep Breathing
The movements of the spine in synchronization with the breath encourage deep, mindful breathing, which can improve lung capacity and oxygen flow to the body.
Helps in Creating Body Balance and Alignment
By engaging the core and practicing balanced movement, this pose helps in aligning the body correctly, which is beneficial for overall body balance.
How to Do the Cat Cow Pose
To do the cat cow stretching exercises follow these steps…
Start on Your Hands and Knees
Position yourself on your hands and knees, ensuring your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Your spine should be in a neutral position, and your neck aligned with your spine.
Move into Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat.
Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.
Broaden your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
Transition to Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
Flow Between the Poses
Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
Move smoothly between the two poses, letting your breath guide you.
Always listen to your body and avoid any movements that cause discomfort.
Tips and Precautions
The cat cow pose is a simple and safe pose, but to make sure you avoid any injuries or make injuries worse, here are some tips and precautions…
Tips for the Pose…
Keep your fingers spread wide and press through your palms and tops of your feet.
Focus on creating a smooth transition between the poses.
If you have any neck issues, keep the head in line with the torso
You can repeat this flow for several breaths, typically anywhere from 5-20 times, depending on your comfort and experience level.
Precautions for the cat cow pose…
It’s important to be mindful of certain precautions to ensure a safe and beneficial experience, especially if you have certain health conditions or are new to yoga…
If you have wrist pain or carpel tunnel syndrome, you might find placing pressure on your hands uncomfortable. You can modify the pose by making fists with your hands or using yoga blocks under your palms to reduce the bend in your wrists.
If you have sensitive knees, placing a folded blanket or a yoga mat under your knees can provide extra cushioning.
If you have neck issues, keep your neck in a neutral position, aligned with your spine, instead of extending it upwards or downwards. This means you might not look up during the Cow Pose or tuck your chin in Cat Pose.
If you are pregnant, especially in the later stages, be cautious with this pose. The Cow Pose can be beneficial as it creates space in the abdomen, but be careful not to overarch the back. Always consult with a healthcare provider or a qualified prenatal yoga instructor before practicing yoga during pregnancy.
If you have a significant back injury, herniated disc, or other back problems, consult with a healthcare professional before attempting this pose. Be gentle and avoid any movements that cause pain or discomfort.
It’s important to engage your core muscles while performing this pose to support your back. This is especially crucial if you have a weak or sensitive back.
Take It Slow
Move into each part of the cat cow stretch exercise slowly and mindfully. Avoid any jerky movements or overexerting yourself.
Remember to breathe continuously. Holding your breath can create unnecessary tension in your body.
As with any yoga pose, it’s important to listen to your body. If something feels painful or uncomfortable, stop and seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor. They can offer changes to make the pose more beneficial for your body.
The cat cow pose is a great pose from yoga that will benefit your posture, spinal health and well being.
You can use it between poses, as a warm up before exercise. And as I do, as a gentle wake me up in the morning.
Be careful if you have injuries or are pregnant, consult a medical professional before you do it. If you are healthy and injury free, then this is a safe pose for you to try.
Now you know how to do cat cow exercise, give it a go.