The cat cow yoga pose, which is known in the Sanskrit language as Marjaryasana, is a yoga exercise that is helpful in developing better spinal alignment and spinal flexibility. It has been known to assist in strengthening the back and abdominal muscles, and, as such, is particularly recommended to people with back pain, and also for pregnant women. Yoga practitioners also cite the cat cow pose as beneficial in dealing with stress and in maintaining a better emotional balance. The cat cow stretch is quite a simple exercise, one that beginners can easily get the hang of.
To get started with the cat-cow exercise, it is necessary for the practitioner to get down on his or her hands and knees, taking care to position the hands right below the shoulders and the knees right under the hips. There should be an equal distance maintained between both the hands and between both the knees. The head should be correctly aligned to the spine, with the gaze turned downward. This is the basic position and it should feel comfortable and well-balanced.
After the basic position, there are two poses in this yoga exercise. The first is the cow pose which is taken on an inhale and the second is the cat pose which is taken on an exhale. The cow pose involves inhaling and raising the face and the tailbone in the upward direction, while arching the back. In the cat pose, the spine is hunched upwards and the face is turned downward to the floor and tucked as much as possible inward towards the chest. Then, on the next inhale, the body is brought back to the original, well-balanced position.
For best results, it will help to repeat the cat cow pose several times. It is important to pay attention to the way one breathes when doing this exercise, and to remain aware of the body movements. The movements should be gentle and relaxed, taking care not to stretch anything overmuch.
It may help to go through the exercise moves slowly and gradually, doing only one or two repetitions to begin with and then increasing the frequency as the body becomes more accustomed. While the cat cow yoga pose is quite easy to do, people with serious medical conditions are advised to consult their doctor prior to attempting it. People who have had neck or disc injuries or problems need to take special caution.