Mārjāryāsana (Cat Pose)
- Come onto your hands and knees
- Inhale deeply, and exhale to round your back
- Tuck your chin into the chest
- Lift the middle of the back up
- Keep breathing deeply as you get a deep spinal stretch
- Stay for 5 breaths
Asana in Depth
Mārjāryāsana, also known as cat pose, is a great way to start a yoga practice. It helps to release any initial stiffness in the body and gently stretches the entire spine, making it ready for further asanas to come. This asana can be practiced by anyone, of any age and any level. If you have any injuries in the wrists, then precautions are to be taken.
Start by coming onto your hands and knees. Ensure that the hands are directly under the shoulders, keeping the alignment of the arms perpendicular to the ground. Spread the fingers wide apart and press all parts of the hands into the ground. Keep the knees directly under the hips, hip distance apart, and point the feet back. Take a deep inhalation, fill your entire lungs with air, and as you exhale round your back. Tuck the chin to the chest, so that you will get a deeper stretch at the back of your neck. Tuck your tailbone under, giving you a deeper stretch at your lower back. Then, lift the back of your chest higher up, creating a concave shape with your spine. The more you can lift up through the middle back, the deeper the stretch will be. While you stay in the pose, keep breathing deeply. It is recommended to stay here for at least five deep breaths.
This asana is often followed by Cow Pose, to counter stretch the back. Alternatively, it can be followed by child’s pose to rest.
There are several variations to this posture. To increase the back stretch, you can lift the knee up and bring it to touch the forehead or to the nose. This greatly enhances the rounding of the back, and the opening can be felt in the neck as well. Stay on each side for five deep breaths.
One of the many benefits of this posture is that it caters to all variety of yoga practitioners. It gives a gentle yet deep stretch to the back (spinal erector muscles) and to the neck, which is great for those with stiff necks. It also releases tension from the lower back and stretches out the buttocks (gluteus maximus muscle). Those with weak wrists would find this posture beneficial, as overtime the wrists will start to strengthen. The chin being tucked into the chest gives a simulation to the thyroid gland, this in turn is very helpful for monitoring and balancing hormone levels.
There are no serious contra indications for this asana. If one has a recent wrist or arm injury then adding pressure to those areas may be
- Stretches the back and neck
- Releases tension from the lower back
- Strengthens wrists and shoulders
- Stimulates the thyroid gland
- Wrist / back / neck injuries to avoid this asana
- Stretches Spinal Erector Muscles
- Stretches gluteus maximus muscle
- Tones Rectus Abdominus muscle