Where you’re new to yoga or have some experience, welcome to the Yoga For Beginners series where I discuss the poses, technique, breath, and benefits. I decided to begin this series for many reasons, but mostly because I keep seeing the same things crop up time and time again. So I figure that I’d begin a series of yoga pose basics. In this post I want to discus how to do Cat Cow pose. Part of a warm up movement in yoga that often gets overlooked.
How to Yoga Basics Video
If you’re an audio/visual learner then I suggest checking out my video below. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well in that case a video is worth at least two or three thousand right? We all learn differently, so I will always try to include words, pictures, and video where possible in my posts. However, to really learn – you need to experience. So make sure to get involved while watching. Also don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, and remember full videos are available for Patreon supporters.
Cat Pose – Marjaryasana (Bidilasana)
Typically I’ve seen this called marjaryasana/marjariasana but I’ve also heard it called bidilasana which is why I included it. SEO is a fabulous thing after all. When teaching to beginners I typically cue this as “scaredy cat” because it’s the shape in the spine we imagine a scared cat to have. If you have pets they really are fascinating to watch. We can learn so much about movement from animals, and children.
For this pose you’ll need to be in a quadruped position, ie: on all fours. If you feel discomfort being on all fours then go check out this post first. I address some solutions there. Imagine you have a string attached from your navel up to the sky, and someone is pulling that string. Draw the navel up to the spine. Then continue to draw upwards by rounding the lower back, tucking the chin slightly, and looking back towards your feet. The tailbone will be tucked and your torso will resemble a rainbow.
Cow Pose – Bitilasana
Commonly associated with a ‘sway’ back this is the counter to cat pose. Again from all fours, keep the arms straight and think this time about your belly being heavy and “falling” towards the floor. Think about the top rim of the pelvis dropping towards the floor and the tailbone rising up a little towards the sky. The head may look more forwards rather than down towards your mat. But be careful not to throw the head back. In this pose the torso resembles a smiling face or hammock.
Benefits of cat & cow
There are many benefits of cat and cow pose, but I just want to share a few that I believe are the most important. I do these two poses as movement exercises
- Mobilize the spine
- Begin to move the body with the breath.
- Body & breath awareness – Moving body scan
- Shoulder mobility
- Warms the body
- Prep for back bends or forward folds
- Helps balance & coordination
- Massage internal organs
- Calms the mind
- Can help with posture
- May help to relieve lower back and SI issues
- Provides stretch for muscles of the trunk/core
Moving through cat cow pose
For full explanation see the linked video above. Moving through cat and cow is pretty simple. The typical movement of cat and cow is with the breath. On the inhale descend into cow, on the exhale lift into cat. However I always say, JUST BREATHE! Seriously though, just don’t overthink it.
Don’t forget if you’re looking for more tips on yoga for beginners, then check out my post on downward facing dog. Remember if there is a pose you’d like me to cover in a future then leave me a comment down below!
- Do you do cat and cow in your yoga practice?
- Which is easier for you cat or cow?
- Any issues arise for you doing these movements?