Cat Pose

 Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)

The gentle flow between Arched and Inverted Cat is a wonderful way of opening up the front and back of the spine and we often offer this vinyasa in our classes. The neutral position also provides a great base from which we can launch into other asanas, such as the Twisted Cat and the Tiger, for example.

 

Technique

 

Flat Cat

 

  • Neutral-Cat-300x200For the neutral starting position of the Flat Cat, come onto your hands and knees.
  • Have knees directly underneath the hips, with calves and feet parallel to each other behind you. Place the top of your feet onto the mat or floor if you can; if this places too much strain, then tuck your toes under and have the balls of your feet on the floor.
  • Place your hands directly underneath the shoulders. Keep the arms straight and strong without over-locking the elbows. Take a good spread of the fingers and place palms such that wrists, elbows and shoulders are in a straight line.
  • Lift the head out of the shoulders, i.e., do not slouch. Align the neck with the rest of the spine so that you are not overstretching either the front or back of the neck and look down in front of you.

 

Arched Cat

 

  • Arched-Cat-300x207As you exhale, tuck the tail-bone and chin downwards and arch the spine upwards so that the middle part of your back is the highest point in your pose.
  • Keep the arms and knees stationary in the same position.
  • Encourage the shoulder-blades to separate away from each other.
  • When you finish exhaling, consider drawing the stomach in towards the spine to help exhale more air from the lungs and to give a gentle massage to the abdominal organs. If you do so, then allow the stomach to relax before you begin inhaling.
  • Either move the eyes downwards towards your chest or consider closing the eyes. The latter helps you to tune inwards and notice what is going on in your body.

 

Inverted Cat

 

  • Dipped-Cat-300x216As you inhale, take the tail-bone and chin upwards and move the abdomen and spine down towards the floor.
  • Keep the arms and knees stationary in the same position.
  • Encourage the shoulder-blades to move towards each other and the chest to open up.
  • Either move the eyes upwards towards the ceiling or consider closing the eyes. The latter helps you to tune inwards and notice what is going on in your body.

Repeat this dynamic flow between the Arched Cat and Inverted Cat for about 10 breaths before coming back to Flat Cat. Consider resting in Child Pose afterwards.

 

Breathing Variation

 

Breathe in to Flat Cat and breathe out into Arched Cat. Then breathe in to Flat Cat and breathe out into Inverted Cat. Continue for about 10 breaths in this manner, always  breathing in when coming into Flat Cat and breathing out when you go into either Arched Cat or Inverted Cat.

 

Benefits

 

  • Opens up the front and back of our spine, reclaiming the space between the vertebrae.
  • Stretches out the back and removes stiffness in the whole of the back area.
  • Strengthens arms and knees.
  • Increases movement in the pelvic and neck areas.
  • Stretches and opens up the chest and thoracic area.
  • Helps to expel stale air from our lungs.
  • Stimulates the energy in the throat, heart, solar plexus and abdominal areas.
  • Helps to relieve stress and to relax, particularly if performed with eyes closed.

 

Precautions and Contra-indications

 

  • If the knees are feeling sensitive, consider placing a folded blanket or folding the mat under the knees.
  • Come out of the pose if there is any pain in the wrists.
  • Only work within your comfort zone: do not push deeper into your movements if there is any pain in the back or neck area.

 

Follow-Up Poses

 

Rest in Child or Extended Child / Swan