|Sanskrit Pronunciation||Mar-jaree-asana (Marjariasana), मार्जरीआसन|
|Meaning||Marjaree – cat|
Asana – Pose
|Known as||Marjaryasana, Viralasana, Billiasana|
|Pose Type||Forward bend, kneeling pose|
|Beneficial In||Increasing flexibility and strength of spine and core|
Many poses in yoga are named after the position mammal took for soft stretching of their spine. One such famous pose is cat pose which mostly practiced in conjunction with a counter pose called cow pose.
Cat pose is an example when even a mammal can inspire us to begin yoga lessons.
Cat is a very flexible mammal that takes the flexibility of its spine to the next level by stretching in this pose. The mobility and flexibility in the cat’s spine are praiseworthy. For humans, only a few percent of this flexibility is enough that we can attain through Cat pose.
Marjariasana: The Cat Pose
Cat pose is an easy forward-kneeling pose, that is used as a warm-up pose to prepare the body for higher level and intense Yoga practices.
In cat pose, a gentle stretch begins from the neck to the lower back that makes our core muscles work together. Thus, It mainly tones the core & spinal muscles and increases their flexibility.
Though this pose isn’t mentioned in the old yogic text, in modern yoga it’s adopted as a form of physical exercise. Here we have discussed the ancient yoga asanas in detail.
While performing this asana the body shape resembles a cat stretching neck and rounding its back. This cat stretch can bring many physical benefits to you if your back gets stiff & you want a space in it.
How to Do Cat Pose
In Cat pose, you just need to come to the tabletop position and round your back. It is pretty easy to perform. Follow the steps given below
Preparing the Asana
- Firstly, come on your knees, keeping the spine straight. Then, bend forward and place your hands on the floor.
- Now, shift your knees just beneath your hips and wrists just beneath the shoulders. Spread the fingers of hands apart, to maintain a better balance.
Note- The feet should be hip-width apart. The wrist, elbow, and shoulders should be in a straight line and perpendicular to the floor. Distribute your bodyweight equally among your knees and hands. Your back should be flat and neutral.
Here your body will look like a table (hands, and legs as four legs of the table), so, we call it tabletop position.
- At this position, take a few breaths and feel the air passing through your in the form of the flow of Prana.
Getting Into the Asana
- From tabletop position, with an exhale, round your back and stretch it upwards. Round the shoulders back, pushing the tailbone downwards. Meanwhile, stretch the neck and gently bring your chin towards your collarbones.
Here your tailbone, back, and neck will make a curve.
- Now, in the same position, start taking deep breaths. With an inhalation, lift the diaphragm properly and pull your abdominal muscles in, towards the spine. Then, with an exhalation, release the abdomen muscles.
- Hold this stretching position for 10-15 seconds, then, again come to the tabletop position. This is one round.
- Again with and exhale, repeat the above process. Repeat it for 5-7 rounds, according to your comfort.
Releasing the Asana
- When you are done, come to the tabletop position and take a couple of long and deep breaths.
- Now, with an exhalation, lift your hands off the ground, and come to your knees.
- Then, sit on heels of feet as in Vajrasana. Lastly, unfold the legs forwards and relax.
Cat and Cow Variation
Cat Pose is often performed in conjunction with Cow Pose. Everything remains the same, except, we just perform Cow Pose right before Cat Pose. It increases the effect of Cat Pose in the body. Let’s see what you have to do here
- Come to the tabletop position, as in Cat Pose.
- Now, with an inhalation, draw your navel part or belly downwards, lifting your tailbone and chest towards the ceiling. Meanwhile, stretch your neck and tilt the head backward, gazing upwards. This is Cow Pose.
- Hold it for 10-15 seconds and take deep breaths.
- Then with an exhalation come to Cat Pose and hold it for 10-15 seconds.
Repeat the process for 5-6 rounds of each pose. Then release the asana as in Cat Pose.
Beginners can use a folded blanket under their knees for better comfort.
In the beginning, people can round the middle back easily. But, still, they might face difficulty in rounding the upper.
As in the beginning, it is a little hard to bring focus on your upper back, so you can ask someone to place hands between your shoulder blades. This will help you to bring focus to the upper back.
Precautions and Contraindications
- Perform Cat pose with an empty stomach or at least 4-6 hours after having a meal.
- Do not try to tuck your chin to the collarbone forcefully. Just bring it towards the collarbones, only as much as it comes without applying pressure.
- Keep the palms flat on the floor. Do not lift the knuckles or center of the palm.
- If you are having a recent or deep injury in your spine, knees wrist or neck, do not perform this asana. It might be painful.
- One having an Arthritis of knee or wrist should avoid this.
Benefits of Cat Pose
Cat Pose is a simple Yoga Asana, but, it comes with a lot of benefits. It stretches the back, spine, shoulders, and neck. Here is a list of benefits, that Cat Pose provides to the body.
- The back and forth movement of the back, in this asana, activates all the spinal columns. This helps in flexibility, strength and overall health of the spine. It removes the stiffness of the spine.
Also, It stretches the central nerves located at the back, which helps a lot in relieving stress in the spine.
- In this asana, we stretch the neck and shoulders. It tones the muscles of these areas.
- During the practice of Cat Pose, we lift the muscles of the core towards the spine. This asana massages these muscles and tones them.
Cat Pose is like an exercise to core muscles. It slowly-slowly decreases the extra fat stored at the core.
- This asana soothes the muscles and glands at the abdomen part such as the digestive system, kidneys, liver, etc. It helps in proper digestion, metabolism and good health of abdominal muscles.
- With the help of deep breathing, this asana expands the diaphragm accordingly. This leads to proper expansion of the chest cavity, which helps in the proper functions of the heart and lungs.
Also, this practice improves blood flow throughout the body.
- It improves the flow of the prana to the brain. So, it provides emotional balance and mental peace to the practitioner.
Also, it removes mental stresses and negative emotions, that gives a charming and cheerful mood.
Cat Pose FAQs
- To whom Cat Pose is most beneficial?
Cat pose is most beneficial for those who are having a desk job. Also, the students who spend a lot of time sitting in a chair or mat must practice this asana.
If someone is having a stiff back so this asana is most beneficial to increase the mobility of his/her back.
- What is the best time to perform Cat Pose?
As Cat Pose is a good warm-up exercise for intense forward bending exercises, the best time to perform it is in morning session when our back is most stiff.
- Why Cow Pose and Cat Pose are often done in conjunction?
The focus muscles in Cow Pose are quite similar as in Cat Pose. Also, these both start with Tabletop pose and these complement each other, there we often perform them together.