Two great yoga poses that work great together, the cat pose (marjaryasana) and the cow pose (bitilasana), done consecutively are very beneficial for both your back and your mind.


This is a great pre-workout back and spine warm up.

Even if you are not about to work out, together these poses strengthen the spine while improving flexion, posture and balance.

It is also a great stress reliever since the movements are done continually in coordination with your breath. The breath work/movement combo is very calming for your brain.


While on all fours, make sure your knees are hip width apart and your hands are directly below your shoulders. Fingers spread and anchor into the ground. Toes lay on the ground and do not tuck under. Start in a neutral spine. Eyes gaze gently at the floor.


Inhale and feel your belly drop toward the floor as you move into a flexed spine. Your gaze can be at the floor if you have neck issues or forward at the wall (or horizon if you are lucky enough to be doing this outside!) as your sit bones tilt towards the sky. Open your chest. Keep your shoulders broad and away from your ears.

Do not strain your neck or lower back. Keep your tilts gentle. If you have neck issues, keep your head in line with your spine to look at the floor instead of up.


With a big exhale, send your spine to the sky as your head drops to the floor and the tailbone scoops under. Let your belly button pull into your spine as you push the air out of your lungs. Send out all the stale air from the bottom of your lungs.

If you want to make it interesting, hiss like a scared cat on the exhale. It’s surprisingly therapeutic!

Don’t be afraid to use this as a quick work-day break. Shut the door, get on the ground and give your back some TLC from being hunched over a computer all day.

Hissing optional.


26 Replies to “Good For Your Back: The Cat-Cow Combo”

  1. I hear all kinds of pops and snaps with this when I start, but the smoothness of back movement is better after I finish.

  2. I feel in love with yoga the first time I tried it. I’m not consistent but always feel great when I do it.

  3. Cone has a great yoga class every Wednesday night from 5:30- 6:30 at ARMC. This class has improved my balance and helps me relieve my stress!

  4. I took an hour long gentle yoga class and it worked out so upper back discomfort I had been experiencing. More of this!!

  5. I was doing this in the middle of the customer service area where I work to relieve stress. It didn’t work out that way.

  6. I start and often end every exercise session with stretching. I learned this as the “Cat scratch” stretch. I have a long history of lower, mid and upper back issues including sciatica. I have had whiplash in my neck. This stretch exercise has offered a lot of relief even when it did not feel good at the beginning. I found the more I try it the better over time things get. This and the Cobra pose are my favorites to get my spine and neck moving in both directions.

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