Cat-Cow Pose or Marjaryasana-Bitilasana in Sanskrit ( ‘marjari’ meaning ‘cat’, ‘bitila’ meaning ‘cow’, and ‘asana’ means ‘pose’) is a combination of two poses practiced together to gently warm up the spine and the abdomen for more challenging postures or is sometimes also practiced as a simple restorative pose. Coming on all fours, gently moving the back in a rhythmic way, and taking the position like that of a cat or a cow, releases the tensions around the spine and shoulders and tightens the abdomen to make a stronger core.
Cat Cow Pose is considered a base pose as Cat-Cow Pose variations can be derived from this pose. Cat-Cow Pose helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in different yoga sequences. Cat-Cow Pose is considered a warm-up yoga pose to prepare the body for more intense yoga poses or flows.
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.
Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling. Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
Next, move into Cat Pose: 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 the crown of your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest.
Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
Repeat 5-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.
Benefits and Contraindications
Activates the Adrenal Glands
Activates the Pancreas
Keeps the Reproductive Organs fit
A great opening of the spine
Strengthens the arms and the shoulders
Deep stretch to the neck improves flexibility
Massages the internal organs thus improving digestion
Good for women during difficult times of menstruation
Helps in the treatment of insomnia as a restorative pose
Weak wrists and shoulders
Injury at the shoulders
Weak or injured knees
Pregnant women to take guidance
Photo poses in different angles
Practicing Cat-Cow can warm the body and prepare it for many activities. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this sequence:
In Cat, let your head drop, releasing the back of your neck. Do not force your chin to your chest.
Also in Cat, you can increase the abdominal massage and strengthening effects by drawing your belly button firmly in toward your spine.
In Cow, let the movement start from the tailbone. Allow your neck and head to be the very last part of the movement.
Keep your shoulder blades broad and draw your shoulders away from your ears. This helps to protect your neck during the movements.
Be aware of your breath and its coordination with your movements. Imagine your breath traveling up and down your spine as you inhale and exhale, like an ocean wave flowing onto the beach and retreating.
Standing Cat Cow Pose
The traditional Cat-Cow involves moving between a rounded spine (Cat Pose) and an arched spine (Cow Pose) while on hands and knees.
In a standing variation, the principles of spinal flexion and extension might be applied while standing upright. For example, you could round your back and tuck your chin (similar to Cat Pose) and then arch your back, lifting your chest (similar to Cow Pose) while standing.
Start in a neutral standing position with feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides.
Inhale: Lift your chest, arch your back, and gently tilt your pelvis forward, bringing your spine into extension. This is similar to the “Cow Pose” movement.
Exhale: Round your back, tuck your chin to your chest, and engage your abdominal muscles, bringing your spine into flexion. This is akin to the “Cat Pose” movement.
Repeat: Continue to flow between these two positions, coordinating your breath with the movement.
Seated Cat Cow Pose
In a seated variation, you might perform a similar sequence Cat Cow while sitting. Start in a comfortable seated position with a straight spine and hands resting on your knees or thighs.
Inhale: Lengthen your spine, lift your chest, and gently arch your back, tilting your pelvis slightly forward. This corresponds to the “Cow Pose” movement.
Exhale: Round your back, tuck your chin to your chest, and engage your abdominal muscles, bringing your spine into flexion. This is similar to the “Cat Pose” movement.
Repeat: Flow between these two positions, coordinating your breath with the movement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cat Cow pose good for scoliosis?
The Cat-Cow pose, also referred to as Marjaryasana-Bitilasana, is a frequently practiced yoga sequence known for its positive impact on spinal flexibility and mobility. While it may not serve as a direct treatment or cure for scoliosis, incorporating this pose into one’s routine can be a beneficial exercise for individuals managing scoliosis.
Is Cat-Cow yoga pose safe?
Generally, the Cat-Cow yoga pose is considered safe for most people, including beginners, and can be a valuable part of a yoga practice.
Is Cat-Cow pose a flexibility exercise?
Yes, the Cat-Cow pose is considered a flexibility exercise, particularly for the spine. This yoga pose is a dynamic sequence that involves moving between two positions, Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (Bitilasana). The flowing movement helps improve flexibility and mobility in the spine.
Do you inhale in cat or cow pose?
In the conventional Cat-Cow yoga sequence, breath and movement are typically synchronized. A general guideline involves inhaling during one phase and exhaling during the other. The specific breathing pattern for Cat-Cow unfolds as follows:
During Cow Pose (Bitilasana), you generally inhale. As you arch your back, lift your head, and open your chest, the inhalation facilitates lung expansion and creates space in the front of the body.
Transitioning to Cat Pose (Marjaryasana), you exhale. Rounding your back, tucking your chin to your chest, and engaging your abdominal muscles, the exhalation complements the movement, enhancing the stretch in the spine.
A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it.
In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings.
After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva.
To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics.
Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga.
At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.