Cat-Cow Stretch

Cat-Cow stretch is a combination of two yoga poses in Vinyasa Yoga. These are highly effective and simple workouts which can be practiced to ease back pain, for toning and stretching the muscles of your abdomen, back and neck and for improving the coordination of your spine. In the cat-cow pose, when you are in the cow pose with your back arched, the back muscles are exercised. And when you are in the cat pose, the back muscles are stretched.

Like the Prenatal Sun Salutation and Seated Hip Stretches, the cat-cow stretch is also one of the prenatal workouts. The yoga poses and workouts in this sequence are:

  1. Neutral Spine - This is the first step where you stand in a tabletop position i.e. on all fours with your back in a straight line. This pose helps in spinal alignment.
  2. Cow Pose (Bitilasana) - In this pose, you inhale and with toes curled inwards drop your belly. Then bend your back from the tailbone till the neck and slowly raise your head to the ceiling. Then exhale and come back to the neutral position.
  3. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) - In this pose, you exhale and with toes curled outwards round your back to the ceiling and slowly bend your head to the floor. Then inhale and come back to the neutral position.

These poses can be repeated on each inhalation and exhalation.

Like the pelvic tilts, the cat-cow stretch helps to provide more flexibility and lengthens your spine. Unlike the pelvic tilts, this stretch helps in alignment and coordination of the spine.

The benefits of cat-cow stretch are many.

  1. In yoga philosophy, it is believed that the emotional wastes prevent the free movement of energy through our body. This workout helps in cleaning all the wastes accumulated in our system.
  2. Helps to dissolve all blockages in our system and thus promotes good health and restores the balance of the system.
  3. Helps in proper regulation and balancing of the thyroid gland functions.
  4. This is the best workout for the entire body especially for your back, spine, digestive system, all internal organs, arms and so on.
  5. Helps in purification of blood and promotes good blood circulation to all organs and spine.
  6. Helps to stretch and elongate the muscles of your back, neck and abdomen.
  7. Helps to teach correct movement of the pelvis.
  8. Helps in proper alignment and coordination of the spine.
  9. Helps in the stimulation and circulation of the spinal fluid.
  10. Helps in better coordination of your body movement and breath.

Thus it is safe to practice the Cat-Cow stretch along with other prenatal workouts like the Prenatal Sun Salutation, Seated Hip Stretches and Pelvic Tilts during pregnancy as it allows you to move freely and doesn't require any lying down unlike other asanas. Also this stretch helps the baby to move in the womb and places the baby in correct position for birth. However, it is advisable to consult your gynaecologist to rule out any problems or complications before you start practicing these stretches. It is equally important to practice yoga under the guidance of an expert who conducts prenatal yoga classes.