Cat Pose Yoga: How To Do and Benefits

Cat Pose is a great beginners level yoga pose that allows you to gently ease your body into movements you may never have experienced before. Often paired with Cow Pose, these yoga movements are extremely beneficial for beginners in experiencing vinyasa yoga, which is a gentle transition into different poses. 

Cat Pose is known as Bidalasana or Marjariasana in Sanskrit. They are derived from the term ‘asana’, which in Raja Yoga means sitting posture, and in Hatha Yoga means a variety of movements such as forward and backward bending.

Cat Pose is designed to relieve any kind of back pain or tension, strengthen your spine and core, improve digestion and help with posture. It is very beneficial as a warm-up pose as it allows your body to ease itself into movements before activity. 

The pose is designed to not have a harsh stretching effect on your neck or back, minimizing any risk of increased pain if you suffer in those areas. With many physical benefits, Cat Pose is a great introductory pose that advanced yoga practitioners love. Relieving any tensions, the pose is extremely beneficial for those who sit at desks or wish to strengthen their abdominal muscles. 

How to do Cat Pose

Firstly, begin in a tabletop position. Gently come onto all fours, keeping your knees in line with your hips and your hands in line with your shoulders. Place your head in the neutral position, looking downwards at your mat. Your hands and knees shouldn’t move at all during the movement.

As you exhale, slowly round your spine to gently stretch in an upwards motion, not forcing any movements. The pose will look like a cat arching its back, providing a satisfying stretch from the bottom of your spine along to your neck. Hold this pose for several seconds, and exhale as you come back to the tabletop position. 

Benefits of Cat Pose

Cat Pose has many health benefits: 

  • Gently stretch your spine and neck, making it a great warm-up position
  • Gently provide pain relief for back, neck, and abdominal pain 
  • Increase flexibility 
  • Relaxes not only your body but your mind as well 

Cat Pose Variations

There are some variations of Cat Pose that are suitable for beginners and more advanced yoga practitioners. These are:

Seated Cat Pose

This pose is perfect for beginners who find the tabletop position too difficult. Sitting on a chair, slowly inhale on a deep breath. 

Then, as you exhale, slowly reach towards your knees. As you reach downwards, round your spine and hold where you feel comfortable. Hold this position for 5 breaths, and inhale as you come back to a sitting position. 

Tiger Pose

This position is aimed at more advanced yoga practitioners as it involves balance. Position yourself in the tabletop position, hands directly underneath the shoulders and knees hip-width apart.

On the inhale, carefully lift your right leg behind and bend your leg to almost tough your head. Hold this position for 10 seconds. 

Exhale to release the leg back down, and bring the same leg up to your chest, rounding your spine as you bring your chin down to meet your knee. Hold this pose for 10 seconds before coming back to the tabletop position.

Cow Pose

Although Cow Pose is known for accompanying Cat Pose in vinyasa yoga, Cow Pose is a great variation of Cat Pose to learn. 

In the tabletop position, keep your knees hip-width apart and your hands perpendicular to your shoulders. Keep your head in the neutral position facing the mat. 

As you inhale, bring your stomach towards the floor. You will feel your back arching downwards, so only bring your stomach down as far as you can without it being painful. 

Hold this pose for 5 breaths, and exhale to return to the tabletop position. 

Inhaling and Exhaling

Inhaling and exhaling are extremely important in yoga as breathing helps strengthen your core muscles, focus on connecting with your body, and aid your muscles during poses. 

During Cat Pose, you inhale in the tabletop position and exhale whilst rounding your spine. You then inhale to come back into the tabletop position. 

Now, it may seem more natural to inhale going into Cat Pose and exhale to come back to tabletop position. However, by exhaling going into Cat Pose, our abdominal muscles are most engaged with our core. This means that once all of the air is released, our muscles are still working to strengthen our core. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do Cat Pose if I am suffering from an injury? 

It is not recommended that you push yourself to do anything you are not comfortable with, but Cat Pose is very versatile in matching your capabilities whilst still providing a number of benefits. There are options of using a chair to support yourself during Cat Pose if you suffer from hand or wrist problems, and Seated Cat Pose eases pressure on your knees.

If you suffer from back pain, Cat Pose may help you release some tensions by providing soothing stretches. Only hold the poses for as long as is comfortable for you, and only hold where the position feels relaxing. 

How many times should I do Cat Pose in a day? 

This depends on the person. There isn’t a set number of times you can do this pose a day, but it is important to listen to your body and not push yourself. 

It is never good for your body to constantly be doing one thing, but practicing Cat Pose a few times a day will develop your yoga practice and you will notice a difference in your flexibility and posture. 

Final Thoughts

After reading this article, you should have a clearer understanding of Cat Pose and the variety of benefits it imposes. If you are a beginner and wish to get into yoga, Cat Pose is a great way of easing yourself in, and its variations allow you to expand on your yoga practice whilst sticking with a familiar pose. 

Laura Simmons
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