Cat Cow Pose, also known as Bitilasana Marjaryasana, stretches the back torso and neck, and gently stimulates and strengthens the abdominal organs and helps to stretch the body and prepare it for other activities.
The Cat pose, also known as Bitilasana, is a gentle kneeling pose that takes the sacred cat position, which warms up the joints in your spine, hips and shoulders. The cow pose, also known as Marjaryasana, is a gentle kneeling pose involves a backbend while slightly dipping the cow’s back, and is practiced to warm up the spine, hips, and shoulders.
|Know as:||Bitilasana Marjaryasana, Cat Cow Pose, Chakravakasana, Cat and Cow pose|
|Sanskrit name:||बितिलासन मार्जरीआसन|
|Pose type:||Backbend, Forwardbend, Chest opener|
|Total time:||60 seconds|
|Chakra:||Manipura Chakra, Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra|
|Indications:||Abdominal organs, intervertebral discs, menstrual discomfort; stimulates adrenals, kidneys|
|Preparatory poses:||Legs-up-the-wall pose, Supta Matsyendrasana, Seated Torso Circles, Child’s Resting Pose, Eagle Pose|
|Contraindications:||Modification for neck injury, Severe carpal tunnel syndrome|
Benefits of Cat Cow Pose (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)
Cat-Cow Pose helps develop postural awareness and balance throughout the body and is also considered a good stress-reliever and calming pose, as you associate the movement with your breath. Following are some physical and mental benefits of cat-cow pose:
- Physical Benefits:
- Mental Benefits:
Step-by-step Cat Cow Pose (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)
Step-1: Get on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale and lengthen from the hips to your armpits. Extend your fingers and root down with your hands as you pull from the floor to your shoulders. Bring the shoulder blades to your back. Keep your arms straight. Raise the sides of your waist. Point your feet straight back.
Step-2: Exhale, press your hands to the floor, and round your spine toward the ceiling. Tilt your pelvis down and scoop your tailbone. Lower your head, fully inflate from your lower back through your upper back. Keep your hips and arms steady and move through your spine.
Step-3: Inhale and move your spine in the opposite direction, creating a concavity in the spine. Tilt your pelvis up and lift your head. Maintain a uniform curvature in your spine. Keep your hips directly above your knees. Keep your arms straight.
Step-4: Repeat Step-2 and Step-3 for five to ten breaths. Push back into Child’s Pose and relax for a few breaths.
Anatomy Engaging Techniques
Stretch your quadratus lumborum to bend your lumbar spine. Engage your abdominals to compress your abs, squeezing your belly button in toward your spine. Your pelvis is in a posterior pelvic tilt.
Engage the muscles in the front of your body to flex your spine — including the abdominals and iliopsoas, while the muscles at the back of your body — including the spinal extensors, trapezius, rhomboids and latissimus dorsi. Lift your scapula up, forward and rotate it upwards. Slightly engage your pectoralis major.
Engage your cervical flexors—sternocleidomastoid, longus colli, and longus capitis. As you flex your cervical spine — your cervical extensors — upper trapezius, splenius capitis, and splenius cervicis, tilt your chin toward your sternum.
Extend your elbows by your triceps brachii while you are lengthening your biceps brachii synergistically to stabilize.
Extend your wrists by your wrist extensors, and slightly stretch your wrist flexors as you stabilize the hands in position.
Relax your lower legs. If they are particularly tight, you may feel the ankle dorsiflexors stretched.
As you stretch the abdominals, engage your spinal extensors to stretch your spine. Retract your scapula by your middle and lower trapezius, and stabilize your serratus anterior muscles.
Engage your cervical spinal extensors, slightly stretching your cervical flexors while gently lifting your chin. Imagine there is an egg on the back of the neck – avoid cracking it by resisting your hyperextension.
Extend your elbows with your triceps brachii, and stabilize your biceps brachii in a long position.
Extend your wrist with your wrist extensors, and while stabilizing, slightly stretch your wrist flexors.
Spinal flexion and extension
Flex your spine, with the front of your body engaged while the back of your body is stretched. Stretch your spine, go into a backbend, engage the back of your body and stretch the front of your body. The spinal extensors are the main players in this expansion.
We often think of the brain as controlling the muscles. It’s true: Those motor signals tell your muscles what to do. However, your nervous system is a two-way conversation. Your body sends a lot of sensory signals to your brain. Yoga improves the mind-body connection by encouraging you to listen to the body.
Proprioception is awareness of the body, especially when moving through space. Your cerebellum constantly receives subliminal cues from your body about its position, while your cerebral cortex consciously senses where you are in space. Flowing mindfully between poses can help you develop this awareness and improve your balance.
Inhale and exhale
Breathe carefully, coordinating your breath and movement; Your nervous system likes this kind of integration. As a general rule, exhale when your rib is compressed (such as in forward folds or bends), and exhale when your rib may expand (such as in a backbend).
Weak wrists and shoulders
Individuals with weak or very strong wrists and shoulders can avoid practicing this pose, and move to a simpler version of Seated Cat Cow Pose.
Any injury to the shoulders should be taken seriously while practicing Cat Cow Pose. Or, it is better to consult an experienced yoga teacher with this exercise in case of injury.
Weak or Injured Knees
During the practice of this yoga pose if the knees are weak then one can use padding under the knees and if one has knee injury, it is better to consult an expert.
Pregnant women should seek guidance
Although this pose is used in most antenatal classes, it is better to avoid doing it yourself, as the body alignment as well as breathing needs to be correct.