This past week, we’ve discovered the amazing benefits of the downward dog, warrior 1, headstand, camel and crow poses in yoga. But today’s featured pose combines two unlikely friends.
Only in yoga you would see the graceful cat and the calm cow paired up to create harmony; even though farms and nursery rhymes have never seen potential in the relationship. But the cat-cow combination pose, aka Marjariasana, is a very common sequence in yoga, allowing you to focus on movement with breath, which is essential in yoga, to calm you down and help you relax.
Getting Into The Cat-Cow Pose
The cat-cow is done on your hands and knees, making sure that your hips are aligned with your knees and your palms pressed down at shoulder-width.
Begin with a neutral spine and breathe in. As you exhale, lower your head, tuck your hips down and curve your spine inwards; some yogis would also call it “rounding your back”. This would be the cat pose.
As you inhale, arch your back and lift your chest, turning your head up but without jutting your butt and hips out (sexy is not the goal here) and hold in your stomach muscles. This is the cow pose.
Inhale to cow. Exhale to cat.
The cat-cow sequence is usually repeated several times to rake in the best of its benefits. As gentle as this pose may be, it is not recommended for people with back injuries. For those who have neck injuries or a serious neck problem, align your head with your back instead of turning it upwards as you are doing the cow.
Why The Cat-Cow Is Good For You
The Cat-Cow is a great yoga pose for beginners and a good exercise to ease back, shoulder and neck pain and revitalize the spine by loosening the muscles in increasing the flexibility that area.
The slow arch of the cow stretches your neck and the front of your torso, while the curve of the cat helps to relieve stress by lengthening the spine and improving the circulation to the discs between the vertebrae. Your abdominal organs will also be massaged, stimulating both digestive and reproductive systems in your body.
Women will gain extra treats from this pose as it’s been used to relieve menstrual cramps and is usually included in prenatal yoga classes!
As the pose promotes deep relaxation and deep breathing, the cat-cow stretch is great to practice before bedtime, engaging you in a physical chant through its simple but rhythmic sequence.
Our final yoga pose tomorrow for our feature this week takes the cat up and puts the cow under what is perhaps the only thing real life cats and cows like in common – the Tree!