Learning The Language of Yoga: Cat-Cow Pose with Natalie Anthony #MovementMonday
I always try to incorporate these poses into each class I teach. Marjaryasana to Bitilasana, or cat to cow, is a great way to warm up the spine as you begin your yoga practice.
- Getting into it: Come to your hands and knees on your mat. Bring your hands shoulder distance apart and your knees hip distance apart. Next, ensure your shoulders are stacked over your wrists, and that your hips are over your knees. Look between the palms and flatten your back. Ensure you also have a long neck to match your long spine. This is your table top pose. Next, on a deep exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin into your chest to let your neck release. Imagine you’re pulling your navel to your spine, and engage your core muscles. This is your cat pose. Next, take a deep inhale and let your back arch and your belly relax. Lift your head (and gaze) and tailbone towards the sky without putting any pressure on your neck. This is your cow pose. Now alternate between cat and cow with each inhale and exhale.
Tips and tricks:
- If your knees are sensitive, double up your mat for extra padding.
- If your wrists are sensitive, try making fists and place your knuckles on the mat instead of your palms.
- Press into your palms firmly to help round your spine and stretch your shoulders.
- Curl your toes under to stretch the bottoms of the feet.
- Opens the front of your shoulders and your chest.
- Stretches your front torso and neck
- Releases tension from your shoulders (in cat)
- Gives your belly organs and spine a massage.
From your table top and ultimately cat cow positions, there are many variations you can explore. To engage the core, you can extend your opposite arm and leg with each round of breath. One of my favourite ways to begin to engage the core and legs is to hover the knees a few inches off the mat, then press back into downward dog.
Natalie Anthony, BA, RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
After a serious accident, Natalie was revived by discovering the physical and emotional benefits of yoga. Her yoga journey began as a client at Balance, and evolved into a passion for teaching the practice to others. Natalie is registered with the International Yoga Alliance as an instructor. Her creative sequencing inspires students to develop strength, flexibility and joy – both on and off the mat. Natalie instructs group classes and facilitates private one-on-one Yoga sessions at Balance, a Toronto boutique fitness and wellness centre. balancefit.com