The Cow-Cat Stretch is the incorporation of COW POSE or BITILASANA and CAT POSE or MARJARYASANA. The two asanas are paired together for a gentle, flowing vinyasa. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, vinyasa is defined as “breath-synchronized movement.” If you practice Vinyasa Yoga, you will move from one pose to the next as you inhale or exhale; that is, your movements will match your breathing.
The instructions below for the two postures each start and end in “table top” position. Go back and forth between Cow and Cat on each inhale and exhale, matching your movements to your own breathing. Do this for 5 to 10 breaths and try to keep an even distribution of weight between your hands and knees.
Both Cow Pose and Cat Pose provide a gentle massage and stretch to the spine and neck. They also stimulate the belly organs, like the kidneys and adrenal glands. Cow Pose also stretches the front torso whilst Cat Pose stretches the back torso. The postures are restorative in nature creating emotional balance, relieving stress and calming the mind.
Cow Pose or Bitilasana
- Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position. Let your neck be long, soften your eyes and take the gaze towards the floor.
- As you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears and look straight forward.
- Exhale, coming back to neutral “tabletop” position on your hands and knees.
Cat Pose or Marjaryasana
- Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.
- As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but do not force your chin to your chest.
- Inhale, coming back to neutral "tabletop" position on your hands and knees.