Cat Cow Yoga Pose – Chakravakasana

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Cat Cow Yoga Pose is the gentle flow between two yoga poses (Cat and Cow) aiming to warm your body while bringing flexibility to your spine. It helps stretch the back of your torso and neck, and also gently stimulates and strengthens your abdomen. It also encourages slow, deep breathing, hence opens up your chest.

What Is the Cat Pose Asana Called?

Cat PoseMarjariasana (Pronounced: Mar-jar-YA-SUN-aa) — the name of this posture comes from the Sanskrit words marjari, which means cat, and asana, which means pose.

Related: Cow Pose

It is a gentle backbend pose that helps loosen up your spine, stretch your back torso, and release neck tension.

Cow PoseBitilasana (Pronounced: Bit-ill-Ah-SUN-aa) — the name of this posture comes from the Sanskrit bitila, which means cow, and asana, which means pose. It is a gentle backbend pose that helps loosen up your spine, stretch your *front torso, and release neck tension.

What Is Cat Cow Yoga Pose Good for?

Cat Cow Pose is a great yoga flow practice especially when your body craves a quick break. Also called the Chakravakasana, Cat Cow Pose is said to be ideal for those experiencing frequent back pains as it improves both your posture and balance.

Not only that, practicing Cat Cow can help warm up your body, prepping it for many of your daily activities.

the synchronized breathing and movements instantly helps relax your body and relieve all your daily stresses.

Step-by-Step Instructions

cat cow yoga pose

1. Come down on your hands and knees to form a “table” position.

2. Make sure that your arms are perpendicular to the floor, keeping your hands flat on your yoga mat and directly under your shoulders. Keep your knees hip-width apart.

3. Inhale deeply, then exhale, looking straight ahead.

4. On your next inhale, do the Cow Pose. Lift your chin up, tilting your head back, then pushing your navel down towards the floor while raising your tailbone. Keep your buttocks tight.

5. Hold this Cow Pose, taking long, deep breaths.

6. Exhale and do the Cat Pose countermovement. Lower your chin to your chest, then arch your back up to the ceiling as high as you can, adapting an “angry cat” position. This time, keep your buttocks relaxed.

7. Hold this Cat Pose for a few, long breaths, then return to your starting “table” position. 8. Repeat these steps five to six times, again, inhaling in the Cow Pose and exhaling in the Cat Pose, as you transition to the next pose

Modifications & Variations

To modify this yoga flow movement (to keep it safer or to make it feel more comfortable for you), try doing the following simply changes to find the best version that works specially for you:

  • Come down on your forearms instead of your hands if your palms or wrists hurt.
  • Rest your forearms on a stack of firm blankets or on a bolster to keep your torso lifted upright. (Doing this variation/modification is especially helpful for pregnant women.)
  • Place a firm blanket or fold your yoga mat under your knees if your knees hurt.
  • This yoga pose can be practiced throughout the day and even while you’re traveling. While sitting in a chair (bus/plane) keep your feet flat on the floor, then press your hands against any backseat, table, or desk in front of you. Do the same steps as if you are doing a regular pose.

Caution: Cat Cow is a great pose for yoga beginners. When practicing it, you should feel very little discomfort (if any) or no pain at all when you perform it.

Tips

Take note of the following info/tips when practicing the Cat Cow sequence:

  • In Cow, move starting from your tailbone and make your head and neck your last movements.
  • In Cat, let your head drop naturally and do not force your chin towards your chest as you ease the back of your neck.
  • Also in Cat, try firmly drawing your belly button in towards your spine to maximize its abdominal stretch and strengthening effects.
  • To help to protect your neck when doing the movements, keep your shoulders broad and drawn away (not inwards) from your ears.
  • Focus on your breathing and coordinate it well with your movements. Imagine air traveling up your spine as you inhale and down as you exhale, much like an ocean wave flowing and retreating on the beach shore.

Find Flow

Upon waking up in the morning, or after sitting down for long periods, you can find flow by trying a few rounds of Cat Cow. This helps bring movement and flexibility to your back and spine, making your body more poised and coordinated.

You will definitely find yourself walking taller and more confident throughout the day!

Frequently Asked Questions

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi. Thank you for provide this information. My husband have a back pain, near spine, down in lumbal are, and in neck. He is often in pain, and I search a lot of tips how to help him. Sure I will tell him to tray this yoga position, I hope that will help him. Now a day yoga can help with a lot of health problem. 

    • Hiya, it may pay to ask your gp (doctor) first. The big thing to keep in mind is to take it easy (especially in the beginning and especially with back issues). Depending on what the source of the pain is, yoga could potentially be very beneficial for him.

  2. Thank you for such an in-depth article about how to do the cat and cow pose properly.

    I really love doing it at the beginning of a practice to open the flow and at the end of practice to gently massage those internal organs after some of the more strenuous poses mid-practice.

    I love the mind-body connection with yoga and find meditation is so easily attained with the breathing patterns in yoga.

    While I have done yoga for several years, I still consider myself a beginner as I can’t do practice on my own. I need either an instructor at a class or a video to follow along with.

    There are still many poses I can’t do and I am okay with that. I am certainly not as flexible as I was when I was younger but I do what I can. 

    Do you think yoga is safe for seniors?

    Are there poses we seniors should not attempt since our balance is not always good?

    • Hiya,

      Glad to hear you found value in the article. There are many things I have also done for years and yoga is one of those where I’ll always view myself as a student. 

      As for poses that you should avoid as a senior – each person has their own limitations. You, for instance have done yoga for many years, whereas someone else your age that is just beginning won’t be able to do even half of what you have no doubt perfected. 

      I firmly believe our bodies know exactly what they can or can’t do and we should listen (sometimes it’s even wiser than our minds 🙂 )

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