Step by step
- To come into Cat pose, start on your hands and knees (all fours) with knees under the hips and wrists under the shoulders or slightly forward
- Spread your fingers and press through the base of the fingers and the fingertips
- As you exhale, pull your belly in, lift your side waists, round your spine and release your head towards the floor into cat position
- Actively press the floor away and feel the stretch in the back body
- Inhale and come back into your neutral starting position.
- Cat pose is generally then followed by Cow pose to warm up the spine with a few rounds of Cat Cow poses.
- Ask a friend to place their hands on your upper back to help activate that area
- Try initiating the movement from your tailbone first and then moving up the spine so your head drops last. This can help you explore the curve in different parts of your back.
Benefits of Cat pose
- Gently massages the spine, increasing mobility
- Stretches the back and neck
- A great warm up before yoga practice paired with Cow pose
- Increases circulation of spinal fluid
- Strengthens the muscles the hands and wrists and prepares them for Downward Dog.
Watch out for
- If you have a neck injury, keep your head in the neutral position
- If you have wrist or knee injuries you can substitute with a seated or lying down version of Cat and Cow poses.
Variations of Cat – Cow
- Try the seated version: Sit on a chair or in an easy cross-legged position. Place your hands on your knees and round your spine into Cat pose on the out-breath. Add the Cow Pose on the in-breath
- Try the standing version: Stand with your legs hips width apart, knees slightly bent. Place your hands on your thighs and round your spine on the out-breath. Add the Cow Pose on the in-breath
- Make a Cat – Cow sequence into a core awakening exercise by extending out your opposite arm and leg in Cow pose and then drawing the elbow back and the knee to nose in Cat pose
- Alternatively, use Cat and Cow pose as an exploration of the spine as in Lisa Petersen’s class Spinal integrity – finding your curves