Cat-Cow Pose

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Cat-Cow Pose Mean?

Cat-cow pose is a combination of two poses that comprise one of the most basic posture movements fundamental to the many schools of yoga. The pose sequence is a gentle warmup that releases tension in the spine, preparing the body for more challenging postures.

From a hands-and-knees tabletop position, begin cow pose with an inhale. The belly sinks toward the ground, creating an arch in the back, and the head lifts as the gaze is directed upward. On an exhale, ease into cat pose. The core muscles are pulled in toward the spine as the back rounds and the head releases gently toward the ground.

This pose combination is also called by the Sanskrit names marjaryasana-bitilasana.

Cat Pose

Cow Pose


Yogapedia Explains Cat-Cow Pose

In addition to easing spinal tension, this pose sequence calms the mind and relieves stress. It is also believed to:

  • Strengthen the arms, wrists and shoulders
  • Stimulate the abdominal organs, kidneys and adrenal glands
  • Open the chest
  • Tone and strengthen the core muscles
  • Stretch the neck and spine
  • Improve circulation
  • Align the spine and prevent back pain

Although simple, cat-cow pose requires precise body positioning for maximum benefit and safety. The knees should be directly under the hips and the hands should be directly under the shoulders.

Anyone who has neck problems or a head injury should keep the head and neck in line with the body. For those with knee or wrist injuries, cat-cow pose can be practiced while seated upright in a chair.

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Cat-Cow Poses

Cat-Cow Sequence

Cat-Cow Flow

Cat/Cow Pose

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