This Cat’s Got Your Back

All this talk about cat/cow at the beginning of class, right?  Spine position and movement are integral parts of yoga.  Thing is, cat/cow back (and neutral spine) keep following us all through class, even though we may not call it that.

The back position of every pose can be described as some variation of either cat, cow, or neutral back.  Get yourself deeper into the form by bringing awareness to the direction of your spine’s movement into cat, cow or neutral, in your poses.

So let’s look at upward facing dog – urdhva mukha svanasana.  Cow back, right? Even the movement, from chaturanga through up-dog is similar to the warm up – neutral spine through to “cow” spine.


How about bow pose?  Cow again.  Of course, the leg, hip, shoulder and arm positions are different, which make coming into a full “cow” back difficult.  But thinking “cow back” when entering the pose from neutral will help you into the full back extension – the pelvis moves toward the feet while energetically the rest of the spine/head move in the opposite direction, for a good spine extension.

Yep, pigeon (kapotasana), camel, fish pose too.  All similar to “cow” back.

How about “cat back”?  Maybe not as many poses use a full “cat” form, but some sitting poses involve a concave back: baddha konasana B (in the Ashtanga series), pindasana, child’s pose, to name a couple.

And let’s not forget “neutral” back.  Seated twists, tree pose, tadasana, many more.

More than just warming up, cat, cow and neutral back at the “beginning” of class actually carry us through the whole class.  Pay attention to how you get into cat, cow, and neutral, and bring that movement to all your poses.

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