Get Your Cat On the Mat For Back Relief

Cat and Cow Pose. Each is a pose on their own but they are often done together for what we call the Cat / Cow Series. This series begins with Table Pose, a foundational pose, in which many poses done on the hands and knees are based. Remember, yoga should ALWAYS feel good and should never hurt and since knee and wrist issues are common, there are a couple of considerations you should make before you start . If your knees are a concern, I recommend placing a folded blanket under the knees, this will give you extra padding and protect the joints. Secondly, if you have wrist issues there are a couple of options for you. You can use your fists with the thumbs pressing into the knuckles of your index fingers with your palms facing one another (this is known as a boxers’ fist and is the strongest position for your wrists). Another option for protecting the wrists is to roll the top of your mat towards you a couple of times. Place the heel of your hands on the roll and let the fingers overlay the floor. This decreases the angle of extension in your wrists and forearms. Select the option that suits your body best. Begin on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. The arms are braced, creating a firm foundation. Make sure that your knees are hip width apart and that you are pressing the tops of your feet into the mat. Think of creating length between your tail bone and the crown of your head. The head is in the same plane as the rest of your flat, neutral spine. This is your basic Table Pose. Once you have this down, transitioning back and forth into Cat and Cow Pose is simple. Come into CatPose by exhaling and curling the spine up to the ceiling while looking towards the belly button.  To transition into Cow Pose inhale and drop the belly down towards the mat while simultaneously lifting the head and the tail up. This extension should create length and space between the ears and shoulders. Try going back and forth between the two poses-exhaling into Cat Pose and inhaling into Cow Pose. Repeat this series 10-12 times. Continue practising the series as needed for back pain relief!