Yoga Poses: Cow Cat Back Stretch Pose


 

Cow Cat Stretch pose or sequence is a combination of two yoga poses, namely, the Cat pose (Marjaryasana) and the Cow pose (Bitilasana). Since, they both focus on maintaining a healthy spine, they are often done together.

The Cat-Cow pose is although one of the Restorative poses, it serves as a good warm-up and cool-down for torso twisting poses too.

Health Benefits

It is an extremely beneficial sequence to lengthen, strengthen and stretch your spine. By going from flexion to extension synced with breath work, one enhances blood circulation in the back. This relieves from pain, stiffness and nourishes the deeper spaces of the spine. Thus, giving flexibility, correcting postural alignment, and stimulating abdominal organs like kidney and adrenal glands.

Additionally, it also strengthens and tones the arms and lower back. This is a great sequence for women as it provides strength to uterus and relieves from stress. It can be done during the pregnancy too (only under expert supervision).

Getting into pose

What you need: Room with fresh air (if you’re doing it inside, otherwise do it in open area), and you.

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Initial Position: Table top position, body weight supported on hands and knees.

Drishti or Gaze: While performing this pose, concentrate your gaze inwards forward (in direction of your nose)

Steps:

  1. Before you begin with the sequence, ensure your knees are directly below hips and palms beneath shoulders. Think of your body as a table, with spine straight and, legs and arms strong.
  2. Inhale as you lift your torso above toward the ceiling. Keep moving up till you feel a mild stretch in your back. Spread your toes on the mat (soles facing up). Do not leave your neck hanging. Stretch it too.
  3. Gently get back to the starting position as you exhale.
  4. Again inhale as you bend your torso below pushing it toward the ground to the point of mild tension. This time, curl your toes under and stretch your neck upwards.
  5. Gently exhale as you revert to the starting position. This is one cycle of this sequence. Do it twice in a practice along with other poses.

If you feel exerted, rest in Child’s pose.

Other variations

  • Chair Yoga: Sit on edge of a sturdy chair with straight spine and palms cupped on the knees. First inhale and push your torso back, rounding the spine. Exhale and revert to initial position. Inhale and push torso forward, creating a cave at back. Exhale and revert.

Preparatory poses

  • Happy Baby pose (Balasana)

Beginner’s tips

  • Begin with balancing weight on forearms rather than palms.
  • Do not drop your back suddenly from the upward bent back position, as it may strain it further.
  • If your knee caps hurt, place a soft towel beneath them.

Advanced poses

Important Notes

  • This is a Restorative yoga pose and hence, calms nerves and organs after a series of standing poses.
  • If doing during pregnancy, consult with your Ob first and then do it under trained supervision only.

Further reading

1. Pranayama – Beginner’s Guide

2. [Infographic] Why Organizations Should Invest In Yoga For Employees

Last Updated: June 30th, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: Aug 30th, 2014

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