Cat/Cow Pose: Holistic Benefits

4 min read

Cat/Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana) is a wonderful way to warm up the spine at any point on or off your mat.

The asana movement from Cow Tilt into Cat Stretch is synchronized with the breath and has powerful benefits for your mind, body, and soul. This is one of those poses that helps you find freedom within your body almost immediately. It can be therapeutic to feel free in your body! Take part in the 30-Day Yoga Challenge to give yourself some time. You will be guided through Cat/Cow as well as a variety of other poses!


Start by placing weight evenly on the hands and the legs in a tabletop pose. The fingers are used to send energy forward. Elbows should be facing each other with the eyes. The feet should rest on the floor, shoelace-side down, with the weight evenly distributed between the shins.

Lift the knees and wrists gently off the mat. Imagine sliding a piece of paper under them. This helps to engage the core and place weight on the shins. It also alleviates the negative effects on the wrists. Rest the wrists and knees lightly on the mat.

Start with a neutral spine and begin the Cow Tilt by inhaling, expanding the belly towards the floor. Lift the gaze (drishti) toward the third eye, then send energy through the sternum, the tailbone, as they tilt upwards.

Cat Stretch: Exhale from the belly button towards the spine, and continue lifting toward the heart. Scoop the tailbone and allow the chin to rest on the chest. Drishti to the nose. You can do as many rounds as desired, adding in intentional movements and spine activation by noticing whether your head, chest, or belly tends to initiate the flow.

Try initiating movements from your tailbone, like an energy flow through your spine, neck, and head, to create fluid, undulating movements that help awaken the chakras.


You may want to experiment with the breath retention during the full exhalation and inhalation in Cat Stretch. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then continue the flow. Concentrate on breathing evenly throughout the movement. Aim for a 5-10 second inhalation or exhalation.

Avoid breathing in to reduce the likelihood of a spike in your sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight/flight response center. Instead, focus on exhaling to encourage the parasympathetic system (rest/digest) response center.


Avoid bending your arms at the elbows to keep the movement localized on the spine. This movement is safe to practice while pregnant, and it has been linked to massaging the female reproductive organs. However, avoid a forceful contraction in the abdomen.

If you are extra conscious of your neck or have an injury, it’s best to align the head with the torso.

Mental Benefits

Although it may appear “easy,” this pose is powerful for the mind. Breath-synchronized movement improves coordination, increases intentional focus, and energizes prana (the vital energy in the body). It is also associated with an increase in emotional balance and mental stability.

Finally, lengthening your spine will improve circulation in the discs that lie between the vertebrae. This, in turn, will relieve stress and calm the mind.

Benefits of Physical Exercise

Cat/Cow Pose has many benefits, including toning your gastrointestinal tract and reproductive system. Asana flow relieves stress caused by menstrual cramps and lower back pain. The Cat/Cow Pose improves flexibility in the spine, neck, shoulders, and back. This movement also stretches muscles in the hips and around. It also helps to pull the chest, abdomen, lungs, and chest muscles.

The Cat Stretch is performed at the peak of its movement to release tension in the upper back and neck. The tailbone is activated to emphasize the root movement of the spine, which increases flexibility in forward and backbends.

The spine is made up of primary and secondary curves (cervical, lumbar, and thoracic). Inhaling while in spinal flexion (Cow Tilt) increases primary curves. Exhaling during spinal extension (Cat stretch) increases secondary curves while decreasing primary curves.

The Cat/Cow Pose improves the flexibility of your spine by utilizing the relationship between primary and secondary curves.

Spiritual Benefits

The Swadhisthana chakra, or second chakra, is activated by the Cat/Cow Pose. A blocked second chakra can lead to depression and emotional turmoil if not nurtured. The movement can enhance creativity, focus, and learning when it is enabled.

The ability to feel joy and connect with your inner source is what’s responsible for the flow.

What are the benefits of practicing Cat/Cow Pose for you? Comment below to share your experience!

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