Introduction to Cat-Cow Flow
This accessible flowing sequence is an excellent way to warm up the spine to prepare for a yoga practice.
Gently articulating the entire spinal column between flexion and extension, these two complementary asanas help to stimulate the spinal discs and spinal fluid as well as the musculature of the back body and the core.
Cat-Cow also adds gentle weight to the arms and wrists to prepare for more weight-bearing yoga postures (like Plank and Chaturanga) that may come later in the practice.
The soft and slow nature of this yoga flow allows for a soft opening to the practice to not only prepare practitioners physically, but also mentally, for what is to come.
- Come to all fours.
- Align your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
- Either relax your feet or tuck your toes under.
- Spread your fingers wide and evenly space between them. Press down firmly into the perimeter of your palms and grip at the yoga mat with your fingertips.
- On an inhale, soften and relax your belly toward the floor. Peel your chest open, “smile” your collarbones, and look forward or up. Without movement, energetically draw your hands and your knees toward each other.
- On an exhale, draw your navel toward your spine and round your back body. Draw your shoulder blades apart from each other and relax your head to gaze toward your belly button. Without movement, energetically draw your hands apart from each other.
- Continue to flow between these two opposing postures for about five breaths.
Maintain an equal distribution of weight between your hands and your knees. Subtly engage your core as you flow through the movements to stabilize your lower back.
Keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine as you flow, allowing it to complete the curvature of your spine. Be cautious not to hyperextend your neck by flinging your head backwards.
Flow fluidly and let your breath guide the movements of your body.
These two yoga postures are a great general warm-up for the whole body to prepare for many different styles of practice. Flowing between these two shapes at the beginning of a yoga practice offers practitioners a great opportunity to sync movement with breath and to tune in to the subtle articulations of their joints.
This flowing warm-up is especially great for a yoga practice involving backbends, core work, or spinal articulation of any kind (such as forward folds or lateral side bends).