Cat pose and cow pose are often paired together into one gentle flow to warm up the spine and prepare mentally and physically for other activities.
Come into table-top position, kneeling with your hips above your knees and your shoulders above your wrists. Your fingers are spread out pointing towards the front of the mat connected with the ground. Your feet are resting on the floor with the weight evenly distributed through your shins. To start with your head is in a neutral position and your gaze should be soft.
With an inhale come into your cow pose by dropping your belly towards the ground; at the same time your chin and chest will lift up so that your gaze is towards the ceiling. Your energy is send forward through the sternum. The tailbone is tilted towards the sky
Now move slowly into your cat pose with an exhale. Bring your chin to rest on your chest, pull your belly towards your spine so that your spine will round upwards to the ceiling with your tailbone pointing downwards.
You can do as many rounds as you like and you can stay in the poses as long as you like by holding your in-breath and out-breath for up to three seconds in each of the poses if. In case you feel unease doing this come back to a slow and flowing movement with each inhalation and exhalation.
You might find multiple benefits in this slow flow.
Physically it will help you to alleviate pain in the neck and shoulder area as well as the upper back. It increases the flexibility of your spine, and your hips, back, abdomen and your chest will get a releasing stretch. As you focus on a slow inhale and a slow exhale with each one of the poses you will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. This will slow down your heart beat and decrease your blood pressure.
Mentally you might find this movement calming for your mind as you are focussing on the coordination and synchronisation of each movement with your breath. This flow can be done with your eyes closed to bring the attention inwards on your feelings and sensations, which can help with emotional balance. And last but not least cat-cow can energise your ‘prana’, your life force.
During pregnancy avoid dropping your belly in cow pose; keep your spine neutral, tailbone lengthening and your gaze lifted up. If you suffer from CTS during your pregnancy you can do this flow on your fists instead of having the palms flat on the mat.