Add ‘Cat-Cow’ Pose to Your Yoga Practice and Improve Your Posture

September 21st, 2015

If you’re not familiar with Cat-Cow Pose, you are definitely missing out. Not only is this pose wonderful for bringing awareness to the spine, but it also helps with stretching and strengthening the back, developing coordination of spinal movement and keeping the spine flexible. Cat-Cow Pose is a regular in my yoga classes. Whether you are new to yoga or an advanced practitioner, once you’ve tried it, you can never get enough of this pose.

Keys to Good Posture
The basis for good posture is maintaining a “neutral spine.” A neutral spine retains three natural curves: a small hollow at the base of the neck, a small roundness at the middle back, and a small hollow in the low back. A neutral spine is neither rounded forward nor arched back too much.

We are a slouching culture; hunched backs, forward-rolled shoulders and protruding bellies. Bad posture is a growing epidemic in our society, as many people spend long hours sitting behind a desk every day. It is estimated that four out of five Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it is the top reason for missing work.

Research also suggests that many spine problems are preventable because they result from poor posture and body mechanics, which subject the spine to abnormal stresses. Slouching creates poor posture, which results in imbalances in muscle structures.

How Can Yoga Help?

When we do Cat-Cow Pose, we can begin to improve our posture. As we get onto our hands and our knees, we position our shoulders over our hands, and our hips over our knees. By becoming supported and centered, this allows us to establish spinal alignment and develop postural balance.

Cat-Cow Pose also allows us to feel every part of our spine as we move from Cat to Cow, strengthening and stretching each vertebrae. This pose also strengthens the core by engaging the abdomen and back, stretches our hips and increases coordination.

Other therapeutic benefits of Cat-Cow Pose include massaging and stimulating kidneys and adrenal glands, creating emotional balance, relieving stress, and calming the mind.

Cat-Cow Pose

(See photo above)

1. Come on to all fours and bring your shoulders over your hands and hips over your knees (coming into Table Pose).
2. Make sure your wrists are in line with the front of your mat.
3. Start in Table Pose with your neck long, stabilize your shoulder blades by drawing them down your back.
4. Inhale and move into Cow Pose, send your sitting bones high, arch your back, press your chest forward, roll your shoulders away from your ears, keep neck long and gaze forward.
5. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone under, drawing your pubic bone forward, round your back, and send your upper back towards the ceiling.
7. Try to keep an even distribution of weight between hands and knees.
8. Continue for another 20 breaths.

(*Please note: People with neck injuries should be sure to keep the head in line with the torso.)