What Is a Cat Stretch
Cat stretch is a type of Yoga pose, which improves the flexibility of spine and strengthens the muscles of torso. Since it provides numerous other benefits, Cat stretch pose can be included as a warm up or as post workout stretching in any regime.
In yoga, the cat stretch pose is known as Marjari. Marjara means cat in Sanskrit and since this pose or asana demonstrates the way a cat stretches after waking up, it is named so. The pose can benefit people with lower back pain. It is a good exercise for spine, neck and shoulders. It releases the tension from the spine and makes the neck and shoulder part loose and stress free. For women, it is also good exercise for reproductive organs.
By moving the spine in two opposite directions, it improves the blood flow in the spine, thus strengthening muscles. For abdominal strength also, Cat stretch pose is recommended. It helps in improving digestive problems like constipation etc.
The cat stretch is a very simple exercise which can be done any number of times during a day. It is also a good warm up exercise and dance, Pilates or yoga studios are the places where this pose is done. The correct posture of the body is very important before performing this pose.
It requires one to kneel on all fours and the hands are kept under shoulders. The knees are under the hips and the shin part should be touching the ground. The palm should face the ground and fingers should be spread. The flat table top position is the neutral position.
To perform the cat stretch pose, inhale deeply. While exhaling, the tailbone is curled inwards; chin is brought towards the chest which creates a hump at the back. It is important to hold the pose for sometime. While inhaling, the pelvis region is pushed forward, chest and chin is lifted to look at the ceiling. In this position the back is hollowed and spine is lengthened. Both the steps can be repeated alternatively for 6- 8 times for benefits.
The pose can be made more intensive by holding the position for a longer time. Once the pose looks comfortable, it is important to stretch the spine as much as possible to give a good workout to the body. All the time during the exercise, the elbows should be kept straight and they should not bend.
For maximum effectiveness, the pose should be performed slowly, gently and smoothly. For beginners it is important to get the correct posture before starting the asana or pose. This can be solved by doing the pose in front of a large mirror or under the guidance of an instructor.