Cow Pose  -Bitilasana

Step by step

  • Start from all fours - in a tabletop position. Your knees under your hips and wrists under your shoulders or slightly forwards of them.
  • Spread your fingers, root down through the base of the fingers and press your fingers on the mat.
  • On an inhalation, lower the belly, lift your chest, tailbone pointing up and look up.
  • Exhale, come back into your neutral 'tabletop' position.

Beginners tip

  • If you're not used to putting weight through your hands start with some wrist and hand warm-up exercises first:
  • Rotate your wrists and then shake your hands out. 
  • Make fists and then stretch out your fingers - repeat this quickly a few times. 
  • Watch MacKenzie Miller's Wrist warm-up class for more ideas.

Benefits

  • Stretches the front of the torso and neck.
  • Gently massages the spine, increasing mobility.
  • Great as a warm up before class along with other spinal movements like Cat pose, side bends and twists.

Watch out for

  • Try to avoid hinging in the middle of the back - work on the curve in the whole of the spine from tailbone to neck.
  • Keep the base of the neck soft while looking up. Look to the floor or straight ahead if you have any neck injuries.
  • If you have wrist or knee injuries, practise the seated or reclined version instead.

Variations

  • Seated version: Sit on a chair or in an easy cross-legged position. Place your hands on your knees and open your chest on the in-breath. Add the Cat Pose on the out-breath.
  • Standing version: Stand with your legs hips width apart, knees bent. Place your hands on your thighs and open your chest on the in-breath. Add the Cat Pose on the out-breath.
  • From all fours, try creating a wave-like motion, moving your tailbone first and allowing your spine to follow.
  • 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 the nose as you draw your belly in and round your back 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 (for EkhartYoga members).