Cat Cow Pose, also referred to as Bitilasana or Marjaryasana, is a yoga pose that is great for your entire spine, as well as the pelvic floor. It has wonderful overall health benefits, as well as, allowing the ability to focus directly in on your pelvic floor concerns. Cat Cow is a movement position which can be utilized on its own, or within a sequence of yoga poses . I usually utilize Cat Cow as the second pose in my series because it is so great at warming up your body and slowly increasing your flexibility. Find more information about my yoga services on my website. Begin by relaxing deeply, focusing on your diaphragmatic breathing, and find what you need to be supported properly in the guide below.
Whenever you flex or round your spine, your tailbone tucks which, in turn, shortens your pelvic floor muscles. However, when you extend, arch, or stretch your spine your tailbone also extends, which lengthens your pelvic floor muscles. When you are doing Cat Cow, keep this motion in mind, and connect your breath and movement together.
- Cat Cow massages your abdominal organs which helps with digestion, blood circulation, and lymph fluid circulation, benefitting your overall organ health
- Encourages coordination of movement throughout your entire spine from tippy top to tippy tail, all together
- Decrease pain in pelvic region, abdomen, back, hips, and groin
- Help with conditions associated with pelvic floor dysfunction
- Practicing with this near the end of pregnancy can aid with delivery
- Combat chronic constipation, incontinence, etc
- Decrease period cramping
Begin by sitting on a mat or the floor with your ankles and/or feet placed underneath your buttocks. Can’t get into this position? NEVER FEAR! There are modifications listed below for a seated version of Cat Cow. You can achieve the benefits of this position best by meeting your body where it is at. Modifications 4 & 5 will be most helpful to you!
From your seated position, reach your arms forward and, placing your hands flat on the mat or floor, come to a position on your hands and knees. Ensure that your knees are shoulder width apart and that your hip and knee line up with one another in the position. Check your arms and adjust as needed so that your shoulder, elbow, and wrist line up with one another as well.
Drop your belly and extend through your lower back. Look up and forward. Be careful not to crane your neck too far or cause undue strain, only stretch to your level of comfort and no further. Practice your diaphragmatic breathing and inhale during this extension. Only hold this position for a few seconds before moving to Step 4 OR take your time, take 1-2 deep breaths once you get into the posture and move slowly between the movements. This posture is really lovely because you can truly adjust it to your body’s needs.
Draw your belly in and move your gaze toward your pubic bone, while arching your back. Be sure to push through your hands, meaning physically push towards the surface, and use this movement to round out through your pelvis. Exhale during this rounding to keep that diaphragmatic breathing working it’s magic! This helps to decrease the space in your belly as well, making this move more comfortable. If you have comfortability issues with this position, or are stuck in a chair at work, find some variations of Cat Cow listed below to help you work it into your daily routine.
Have knee concerns or discomfort? Check out this variation! Place a towel, blanket, or foam roll underneath your knees for additional cushion or support.
It is possible that 90 degree angle of your wrists can cause pain or discomfort. You can modify this wrist angle while still gaining all the wonderful Cat Cow benefits! Instead of laying your hand flat on your surface, make a comfortable fist, and place your knuckles on the surface, allowing your wrist to remain straight in line with your elbows and shoulders. You can also utilize a block or wedge to find a more comfortable wrist angle for this position.
This modification is great for those who work a desk job, or spend multiple hours at a time in a chair. This can also be a great solution for those with knee or wrist pain that is not alleviated by the above suggestions. In this position it is important to begin by sitting towards the front edge of your seat, but with enough room that your upper thigh is supported by the surface of your chair seat. From here you can follow the arch and belly opening movements, to the rounding and belly collapsing movements in Step 3 & 4 respectively. There are a couple of things to keep in mind with this modification and great examples of these in my YouTube demonstration!
First, when arching, sit tall and gently look upwards being cautious not to overextend your neck. In this position your pelvis should be tilted forwards as if dumping water out from your belly button. INHALE!
Second, when collapsing your belly in, keep that pelvic position in mind yet again, only this time tilt back so that you are pouring the water out from the back. EXHALE!
For a full range of poses and stretches, with a multitude of modifications, check out the following resources! Use these to design an individualized, daily plan to build healthy movement into your life!
PELVIC YOGA POSES:
PELVIC FLOOR STRETCHES:
I LOVE the yoga store listed below for their quality, and variety of options, designed to meet all of your needs. Manduka is a great one-stop-shop for high-quality yoga products. They also sell clothing and other accessories to make those pelvic stretches possible for everyone.