Yoga 101: Table, Cow and Cat Postures
Nourish the body and spine with Cat and Cow postures.
Let’s cover three postures that frequently are used together, creating a body vinyasa (synchronization of breath and movement).
In Yoga 101: The Body Vinyasa, we discussed how to connect breath and movement, and in Yoga 101: The Sunbird we introduced the table foundation. Because they create stability and grace, Table, Cat and Cow postures are found in many vinyasa yoga classes, and also work well together with Child’s pose.
Table, Cat and Cow mirror the basic flexion and extension movement of the spine. When you create the right balance of effort and ease, this sequence has great potential to nourish your body and spine.
Like lots of other asana, Cat and Cow are inspired by animals, and table mimics an everyday object.
In Table, the spine is fixed in a neutral position, balancing the back and abdominals muscles. In Cat the spine is in flexion, engaging the abdominal muscles, and in Cow the back muscles are engaged.
As you practice these postures, focus on deep breathing, fluid movement, engaging, stability, spinal movements and the presence of transformation.
Before starting any new exercises make sure you are cleared by your doctor or wellness provider.
- Come to a kneeling position, hip width apart, padding your knees on a blanket and a yoga mat.
- Bring your hands shoulder width apart and spread your fingers wide, imagining you have big cat claws.
- Starting with table, try to mimic the flatness of a table and imagine creating a sturdy shape that could hold your favorite beverage.
- Hold this shape for 5-10 breaths and then take child’s pose for a few breaths.
- After Child’s posture, return to table and prepare to put the body in motion.
- As you inhale, anchor your hands like claws and begin to melt your heart space arching your back like a cow.
- As you exhale continue to root into your hands and move in reverse from Cow posture to Cat posture rounding your back like a cat.
- Make your movements small in the beginning incorporating breath and movement as seamlessly as you can.
- Practice looking toward your nose as you inhale in Cow and looking back towards your knees as you exhale.
- As you continue moving from Cow to Cat and Cat to Cow focus on the engaging your back muscles in Cow and your abdominal muscles in Cat.
- After 5-10 breath visualize yourself as an animal stretching your body in nature.
Incorporating Table, Cat and Cow into your yoga practice can help strengthen your back and abdominals, create stability in hands, wrists and shoulders, connect with breathing and provide an opportunity to use the imagination by transforming your body into animals and objects.
Yoga Happenings this Week:
- Kathryn Budig will be at Yogani studio this weekend: Saturday, from 2-4 p.m.; Sunday, from 9-11 a.m. and from 2-4 p.m. Cost for each session is $45. Check out all the info and sign up early; Friday night is already sold out!
- Join Chay Prieto with DJ Matt for a Yoga and DJ class at Bella Prana Yoga and Meditation, 1000 W. Kennedy Blvd., Saturday, from 2-3:30 p.m.This SUPER-charged, FUNky Flow Levels 2/3 style class will have your heart pump’in, skin sweatin' and body rockin'! Space is limited; cost is $20.
- Also at Bella Prana, on Saturday, from 1-3, there os a workshop on Yoga and Parenting, with instructor Sarah Lecsh and Denise O’Dunn. You will acquire tools that will help you become and remain a calmer, more introspective parent and person. Understand your child's unique personality, or dosha. Learn meditation techniques that foster peacefulness. Practice yoga sequences to do at home that promote balance. Cost $20.