Known as ‘Cat – Cow’ or Marjariasana in Sanskrit
is great for relief of back pain and for those new to yoga…
Cat – Cow is a very common sequence in yoga classes; as you continue to practice
it will become as ubiquitous as Downward Facing Dog ( Adho Mukha Svansana )
Despite it’s somewhat simplistic name, Cat / Cow ( Marjariasana ) is a the yoga practice for beginners, an excellent spine revitalizing sequence and an excellent kriya for back pain.
It gently tones the lumbar spine, and female reproductive system. It’s an excellent prenatal yoga practice up to the second trimester. If practiced gently and as per your own internal intuition, it may also help bring relief from cramps if practiced during a womans cycle.
Cat / Cow is practiced as a kriya, linking the breath with movement and multiple repetitions. Move through the practice slowly, with awareness, for at least 20 breaths.
The repetitions create a gentle massage which helps to creates more space for the breath, increase joint mobilization ( fixation )… and aid in the circulation to the discs between the vertebrae. This augments suppleness and health of the vertebral discs, oxygenates, detoxifies and enhances the all-important cushioning action they create for the spine.
Cat / Cow improves the vital information flow through the spinal cord, creating an overall energizing effect. To really get a sense of this, make sure to rest in child’s pose for at least 30 seconds after having practiced for 20 breaths. This rests allows the body to integrate the new information received through spinal flexing and it allows your mind to be absorbed in the new sensations of the body. An important energetic integration taking place will be enhanced by your awareness. By becoming aware of the effect that these simple, elegant and rhythmic movements have on your system, you become present.
This yoga kriya has two stages ~ Cat and Cow
On your hands and knees, with wrists below shoulders and knees under hips
As you inhale, let your tummy drop and hip bones tilt forward, toward the thighs, tail lifts
Roll through the spine to lift the head last, looking up, keep shoulders relaxed
Keep the eyes looking up as you tuck your tail, pull in the belly, round the back and allow for the head to drop at the very last and looking towards the belly or thighs.
Benefits are greatly enhanced if the stomach, pelvic floor and sphincter muscles are contracted towards the spine at the end of exhalation.