Improve your posture and your digestion using a simple yet powerful pose.
Cow Pose (Bitilasana) Step-By-Step Instructions
Start by placing your body on the mat in a “tabletop” position while keeping your knees under your hips. Make sure your wrists, elbows, and shoulders form a line and are perpendicular with the mat.
Fixate on the floor with your eyes, and keep your neck neutral.
As you take a deep breath, lift your pelvis and chest bones up toward the sky while allowing your abdominal muscles to relax and sink toward your sitting bones.
Slowly lift your head and gaze forward.
While you exhale, come back to the tabletop position at the beginning of your pose. Repeat the same process from tabletop to cow pose anywhere between 10 and 20 times.
If you like, you can pair it with the cat pose for a gentle, flowing Yoga session.
Cow Pose Common Mistakes
They are a few common mistakes that can occur in the cow pose. Even though the cow pose does not require much strength and flexibility, you do have to be aware of your own position on the mat as well as how to synchronize certain body parts.
Failing to Keep Your Knees Below Your Hips
Many beginners are not sure where to place their knees. Sometimes, they push it forward, making the cow pose shorter and preventing their back from stretching or pushing the knees back, which can cause them to lose their balance.
To fix this, make sure you practice in a spot where you can see yourself. Mirrors are always a great tool when practicing Yoga. You can also practice near a window and check the way you position yourself by looking at your reflection in the glass.
Failing to Keep Your Wrists Under Your Shoulders
This type of misalignment can lead to a number of problems.
First of all, if your wrists are further, you will feel the tendency to shift more of your body weight onto your wrists instead of distributing it equally. This can lead to injuries.
Second, you cannot really complete the pose since placing your wrists forward causes your core to stay straight and engaged. However, what we want in the cow pose is to push the belly towards the floor and arch the back.
To fix this, simply look down and make sure that your wrists are exactly underneath your shoulders. If this feels uncomfortable, place a towel under your palms.
Overly Engaging Your Core Muscles
Many of us have the tendency to try and push our boundaries a little bit. But in this pose, engaging your core muscles is not a must.
You do not have to keep your abdominals engaged all the time, only when you inhale. When you exhale, you relax your core.
The cow pose can teach us quite a bit about breathing techniques and how to slow down when needed.
Cow Pose Variations
The Cat-Cow stretch brings together two related poses that go well in a gentle Yoga session in the vinyasa style.
If you do not know what makes the vinyasa style different, you should be aware that it focuses on maintaining a flow between the poses, and it uses poses that are related to each other to create continuity in the session.
Also, in a vinyasa session each movement is synchronized with your breath, which means that each time you move from one pose to another you either inhale or exhale.
To perform this variation of the cat pose, you should start by standing on all fours in the table pose with your hips under your knees and your back straightened out. Your elbows and wrists should make a 90 degree angle on the mat.
Focus on keeping your back straight yet your back muscles and spine neutral. Your neck and back should form a straight line and your head should be neutral while you keep your gaze on the floor.
Next, stabilize your upper back by rolling the shoulder blades back and forth. Once you stayed for at least 30 seconds in the tabletop pose, you can move to the cow pose by inhaling.
As you take the air inside your lungs, lift your sitting bones up toward the ceiling and move your chest forward while allowing your core muscles to relax and sink towards the mat.
Slowly lift your head, and keep some distance between your shoulders and ears to release the tension. Make sure to look forward.
As you let the air escape from your lungs, round your spine and keep your tailbone low to adjust into the cat pose.
Next, make sure you slowly lower your head towards the floor without allowing your chin touch your chest. If you suffer of neck stiffness, you can skip this step and hold your head up and in line with your back throughout the duration of this variation.
Lift your abdominals and get up in the cat pose followed by a drop in the back and the core in the cow pose. Go back and forth between the poses while performing the movements as you inhale and exhale.
If you want to make sure you are getting the most from this Cat-Cow pose variation, distribute body weight evenly on your knees and hands. By doing so, you avoid injuries and ensure that you work each part of your body equally.
If you want to make the pose a little bit more challenging, you can always stretch one leg back and hold up the opposite arm. Try holding your leg and opposite arm up for at least 5 seconds.
Benefits of the Cow Pose
The cow pose is extremely helpful for beginners and Yoga practitioners who want to heal their bodies and spirits but take it easy at the same time.
The beginner pose can also help you get used to many breathing techniques and meditation techniques that are used in yoga, because it is gentle on your body and makes it easier for you to relax.
On top of this, the cow pose can help you improve your posture by stretching your spine and back.
Staying on your knees and arms can also help you improve your coordination and body awareness.
The cow pose also gently massages your internal organs and improves your digestion.
How the Cow Pose Impacts Your Sacral Chakra
As you already noticed by now, each pose has an impact on your body and mind that goes far beyond the physical benefits.
The cow pose impacts the sacral chakra, the second energetic point in your body that deals with your playfulness, confidence, sensuality, and protects you from anything that leads to infections or infertility in the pelvic area.
Bitilasana may help you if you are always take things a bit too seriously as well as if you cannot quite find any joy in your daily activities or if you are stuck into a routine just because you are afraid a change might make things worse.
Your confidence and sensuality are also controlled by the sacral chakra. If you are having issues getting close to your partner or if you do not feel comfortable with the way you look this can also be a sign of a weak sacral chakra.
When it comes to the physical impact of the sacral chakra, urinary tract infections and endometriosis are among the few conditions that can be helped by the cow pose.
On the flip side, if you exhibit a too much sensuality, if you rarely take things seriously and never make plans for the future, or if you hate routines altogether, you may have a little bit too much sacral chakra and are better off avoiding Bitilasana.
The sacral chakra is all about making you feel comfortable with yourself, in your relationships and personal life. However, too much or too little of it can lead to an imbalance that affects many aspects of your life.
While the cow pose is considered perfect for beginners, it proves to be quite challenging for those who suffer from back problems and a stiff neck.
If you are suffering from back pain, you should probably avoid this pose since it applies some pressure on your back muscles and abdominals.
While some people who suffer from a stiff neck perform the pose by keeping their heads down instead of lifting them up, it is recommended that you ask your doctor if a variation of the pose could be helpful for you.
Yoga practitioners who suffer from low blood pressure and hearing problems might be challenged when attempting to hold this pose as well, and it is recommended for them to try the pose under the supervision of a professional.
While low blood pressure can affect your balance, it affects everyone differently. Only a professional can decide if you can hold the pose safely.
Also, make sure you have not had a rich meal before starting your Yoga practice since your core muscles will be engaged during the pose.
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