STRETCHING: CAT-COW

Dr. Reetu Verma

Many of you know that I am a big fan of Yoga, so I am sharing an exercise which can be beneficial in this time of Lock-down mode, or as I call it, Lock-In mode.

Given this, I have found myself sitting for longer hours than usual on my desk and slouching on the couch. Research states that sitting is considered the new smoking. Plus long hours of sitting leads to slouching – bad posture, lack of circulation, less energy, and sometimes weight gain. 

Stretching exercises are known to help you relax, release muscle tension and increase your energy levels. This is because stretching increases the circulation of blood and oxygen to your muscles, leading to improved energy levels, increased vitality and well-being.

This is where the Cat-Cow stretch, a popular pose in Yoga classes comes in.

What is the Cat-Cow Stretch?

The Cat-Cow stretch involves moving the spine from a rounded position (flexion) to an arched one (extension) while inhaling and exhaling deeply.

he spine is one of the most important parts of your body. Without it, you could not keep yourself upright or even stand up – your spine provides the structural support and balance required to maintain an upright posture and enables flexible motion. This movement also opens the chest and lungs, allowing for easier breathing.

The Cat-Cow stretch is known to improve posture, balance and promote a healthy spine, and in combination with the breath, is a great mind-body exercise.

Benefits of Cat-Cow Stretch

  • Improves posture and balance
  • Stretches the lower spine, hips, back and abdominal organs
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and back
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind
  • Opens the chest and lungs allowing for easier breathing

Practising Cat-Cow

Come onto your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. 

Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged.

COW: As you inhale, let your belly soften, arch your back, and lift your head and tailbone. This part of the stretch is called Cow.

CAT: With an exhale, round your spine up to the ceiling, pulling your abs toward your spine, and simultaneously tuck your tailbone and chin in. This part is known as Cat.

Continue flowing back and forth from Cat to Cow, breathing deeply so as not to rush each movement. Repeat for a minute or two.

Remember that a Cat-Cow stretch is a gentle flow between two poses that warms the body and brings flexibility to the spine while opening the chest, encouraging the in and out breath flow.

Before you start, watch the video here, where Professional Yoga Teacher Janita explains and shows you the correct posture and movement of the Cat-Cow Asana