Cat and Cow PoseCat Pose (Marjaryasana) & Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Cat and Cow poses help to improve the flexibility and mobility of the spine and they also work the abdominal muscles. It also gently strengthens the wrists and shoulders, and massages the digestive organs. The Cat-Cow sequence is a good to start a practice with because together these postures flow like magic easing you into connecting with breath and movement, and helping you to be present with the sensations that come from moving between the two.

Try closing your eyes whilst moving between the two and allow yourself to experience the subtle sensations, and then enjoy the benefits that are introduced for the rest of your practice- heightened presence and awareness as well as fuller, deeper breaths. A sigh feels good after this sequence, probably indicative of the opening and the improved circulations that it offers. Just thinking about it makes me want to sigh!

A Few Helpful Hints:

  1. Find a neutral spine by fully tilting you pelvis back and forth then lessening each tilt until you find your centre or neutral spine. Your abs should be slightly engaged even in neutral.
  2. Try to keep the shoulders over the wrists and the knees at hip width under the hips throughout the sequence.
  3. In Cow, work towards expanding the chest towards the sky as you breath in whilst at the same time keeping the belly button to the spine and the shoulders down and relaxed- think opening the heart towards the sky.
  4. In Cat, engage the abdominal muscles by continuing to draw the belly button towards the spine. At the same time draw the tailbone downward as you breath out- think open wings.
  5. Between these two poses look for sensations and movement in the whole of the spine and work towards increasing the space between the vertebrae.
  6. Try to lead with the centre of your spine in Cat and with your heart in Cow pose.

Tips to Prevent Injury

If you have neck injuries, then keep the head in line with the torso throughout.

If you have trouble with the wrists, you can do this pose on fists, in Heroes Pose (Virasana), in Easy Pose (Sukhasana) or sitting on a chair.

For discomfort in the knees, place a folded blanket under the knees or fold over the centre of the mat for cushioning.

Take Caution If You Have:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome- try it in Virasana, Sukhasana or whilst sitting on a chair.
  • If you have serious knee, lower back, or shoulder issues please consult a physician about doing this safely.

Associated Chakra: Anahata (Heart Chakra)