The Cat Yoga Pose (Marjaryasana) teaches you to initiate movement from your center and to coordinate your movement and breath. These are two of the most important themes in Asana practice. The alignment of your center depends on the positioning of your pelvis. Therefore, think of your hip positioning as the center of each pose. This is important because your spine is the most significant line of energy in every pose and because the way your spine elongates from your center depends solely on which way your pelvis is turning.
Benefits of Cat Pose
The Cat Pose is a pose that helps increase flexibility in your spine. When practiced regularly, this pose can help alleviate back pain. It also stretches your neck and helps to stimulate your abdominal organs.
How to Do Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
- Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.
- As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
- Inhale, coming back to neutral “tabletop” position on your hands and knees.
- This pose is often paired with Cow Pose on the inhale for a gentle, flowing vinyasa.
Cat Pose for Beginners
This exercise can be performed in an airplane seat or office chair as well. Place your feet flat on the floor and your hands on a table, chair, or wall in front of you. Perform the same movements with your spine as you would if you were on your hands and knees.
- If you have wrist discomfort or pain, perform cat with your elbows on the floor under your shoulders keeping you hands open shoulder width apart.
- If you have neck pain when looking up, allow your gaze to only look forward on the inhale phase of the movement.
- Place a folded blanket under your knees for cushioning if the knees are sensitive.
Cat Pose for Advanced
During Cat, you can actively press through your palms to the earth feeling that energy in your arms and shoulders.
- You can make Cat-Cow stretch into a core awakening exercise by extending out your opposite arm and leg in Cow pose and then drawing the elbow back and the knee to nose in Cat pose.
Bringing movement and flexibility to your spine helps your body to become more coordinated. Try a few slow rounds of Cat-Cow when you wake in the morning, or after sitting for a long period. You may notice yourself walking taller throughout the day!