In yoga, you will find a vast amount of different poses that can all activate different parts and muscles of your body, as well as helping you practice different stances, breathing exercises, and more.
The poses are then also used in sequences, which is a pattern of poses, one leading into the other. It is important to pay attention to the intricacies of each pose, as performing them correctly is absolutely vital in order to practice yoga safely, and in a way that provides you with the benefits.
One of the most simple and basic poses in yoga is the cow pose. In order to ensure that you are able to perform this pose correctly, we are going to tell you exactly how to do it, and how it will benefit you.
Let’s get right into it!
Key Information About The Cow Pose In Yoga
Before we begin explaining how to perform the cow pose, it might be worth you taking a look at some of its key information, so that you are more familiar with it!
Sanskrit name: Bitilasana
Muscles it engages: lower back, knees, and neck
The cow pose, known as the Bitilasana in its original Sanskrit, is a simple and basic yoga pose that is often performed together with a cat pose in a dynamic way, switching from one to the other.
This is often done at the beginning of a yoga session, as a warm-up, in order to prepare the body for more intense or complicated yoga poses, and it is highly effective at stretching the spine.
How To Perform The Cow Pose
The cow yoga pose is incredibly simple, and one of the most basic yoga poses that you will come across. However, it is still important to make sure that you are performing it correctly, as this is vital to keeping your body safe and healthy and reaping the right benefits from the activity.
Here is a guided step-by-step set of instructions on how to perform the cow yoga pose:
- Start out by positioning yourself at the center of your mat, hips on your heels, as you sit on your shins and knees. This is called the Vajrasana start.
- Next, relax your body and take some deep breaths. As you do so, extend your spine upwards, relaxing your shoulders back.
- As you inhale, place your hands on the floor (palms outstretched) in front of you, and extend the arms out straight.
- With the next inhale, lift your torso off the heels and the mat, and get on all fours.
- Make sure that the palms are in line with the knees, with the knees at a hip distance. Your feet should be placed just behind your knees, aligned. You should be left with your palms below the shoulders, knees below the hip, and torso parallel to the floor.
- Shift the weight of your body so that it is at the center of your spine, without it going over the shoulders or wrists.
- Look straight in front of you and breathe deeply.
- Let your belly fall towards the floor, curving your lower back in. You should also extend your hips outward and up, tightening your belly as you do so.
- Stretch your neck up, this will heighten the curve of the back to the max. As you do this, focus on your breathing. This is the cow pose, providing strength and stability.
- (usually, you would begin a dynamic movement between cow pose and cat pose here)
- Once you are ready to leave the cow pose, release the body as you inhale, and then relax as you exhale. Slowly shift back into the initial Vajrasana sitting pose.
Benefits Of Performing The Cow Pose In Yoga
As you can see, the cow pose in yoga is extremely easy, and it is all about slowly stretching your spine, and practicing your breathing, in a stable and strong position. It is no surprise that it is one of the first poses taught to beginners and something that is repeated over and over in most yoga sessions.
But just in case you would like to know more about what this pose actually helps you with, here is a list of some of the main benefits:
- It improves the flexibility of your spine, by stretching it
- It can help relieve tension from your lower back, middle back, neck, and shoulders
- It improves the strength of your core
- It improves stability
- It strengthens your arms, shoulders, and wrists
- It activates hip joints, knee joints, and shoulder joints, improving their health
- It can massage the abdominal muscles, which leads to an improved digestion
- It can aid in reducing stress, as well as reducing insomnia
- It improves the overall body posture
- It’s a great pose to practice in a prenatal and postnatal state
- It’s great for practicing breathing exercises
- It sets up a solid base upon which you can then perform more complicated and intense yoga poses
- It activates the solar plexus chakra, the root chakra, and the throat chakra
When To Be Careful With The Cow Pose In Yoga
There are some specific circumstances in which practicing the cow pose in yoga is not recommended, based on your physical condition. Here are a few of the things you need to look out for and be careful with:
- Any injury that is affecting your back, your neck, your knees, your shoulders, or your wrists
- Arthritis, especially of the knees and wrists
- Migraines (you can still perform the cow pose, just be extra careful!)
- Blood pressure
All in all, the cow pose in yoga is simple and basic, and at the foundation of many yoga pose sequences and patterns. It stretches the back and spine, helps with breathing, and strengthens your muscles and core.
The steps to get into the cow position are simple. So a few attempts should have you master it in no time!