The simple cat-cow stretch is a lot more beneficial than it looks. I love this pose because it’s so simple – more or less everyone can do it – and you don’t need to be very flexible to master it.
It’s usually incorporated in a yoga flow, but can, of course, be done on its own – and it’s particularly helpful if you are into tennis and sports and need help to increase the flexibility of the back muscles. All you need is a yoga mat, some open space, and a few minutes of your time.
Benefits of Cat-Cow stretch:
- Improves posture and balance
- Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
- Stretches the hips, abdomen, and back
- Increases coordination
- Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands
- Creates emotional balance
- Relieves stress and calms the mind
How to do it
Start in a tabletop position, and make sure your knees are directly below hips, and palms beneath shoulders. Then you inhale as you move into cow pose, and from there, slowly as you exhale, move on to cat pose.
Go back and forth between Cow and Cat on each inhale and exhale, matching your movements to your breathing. Do this for 5-10 breaths, and after your final exhale, end the stretch in table pose.
By going from flexion to extension synced with breathwork, you enhance blood circulation in the back, which is helpful to release pain and stiffness, and it nourishes the deeper spaces of the spine. As I mentioned above, it is also very calming and can quickly combat feelings of stress and tension.