Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Marjaryasana-Bitilasana Mean?

Marjaryasana-bitilasana is a combination of two asanas that comprise one of the most basic movements fundamental throughout the many schools of yoga. The asana sequence is a gentle warmup included in vinyasa that releases tension in the spine, preparing the body for more challenging postures.

Marjaryasana-bitilasana is practiced from a hands-and-knees tabletop position. In the first half of the pose (marjaryasana), the back rounds and the head releases gently toward the ground; in the second half (bitilasana), the belly sinks toward the ground, creating an arch in the back, and the gaze is directly upward.

The name comes from the Sanskrit, marjari, meaning “cat”; bitila, meaning “cow”; and asana, meaning “pose” or “posture.” In English, it is known as cat-cow pose.


Yogapedia Explains Marjaryasana-Bitilasana

Traditionally, marjaryasana-bitilasana is believed to open the anahata (heart) chakra, stimulating self-love, trust, loving-kindness to others and unconditional love. The anahata is responsible for energy flow and blood circulation.

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

  • Support emotional balance
  • Sharpen the yogi’s focus
  • Promote the coordination of mind and body

Although simple, this asana requires precise body positioning for safety and maximum benefit. The knees should rest directly under the hips and the hands should be positioned directly under the shoulders. Yogis with neck or head pain should keep the neck and head in line with the body. For those with knee or wrist pain, the asana can be practiced while seated upright in a chair.

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