Friday, August 2, 2013

Fitness Friday - Cow Position

Last week, we started looking at what I have been learning in my new yoga classes and I talked about one of the beginning sequences that is used in nearly every single yoga class and the benefits of which can be reaped by anyone.  Cow position is the other part of the Cat-Cow sequence and is one of the warm ups used to loosen up in the beginning of my hour-long yoga classes.  I have also heard of this stretch being used in group fitness classes and recommended to people that are recovering from back injuries or have frequent back pain.  Therefore this is one of the best yoga positions to learn and start doing on a daily basis.

I don't know if any of you started trying Cat position last week but now you can quickly learn the sequence and get into the habit of a simple practice.  "The cat-cow stretch is a yoga classic, and with good reason. It consists of moving the spine from a rounded position (flexion) to an arched one (extension). It's a simple motion, but one that is enormously beneficial in preventing back pain and maintaining a healthy spine. Each movement is done in conjunction with either an inhalation or exhalation of the breath, making this a simple vinyasa. If you already have back pain, check with your doctor before beginning to make sure these movements are appropriate for your condition.", states the About Health website. 

The instructions to start out the sequence..,

1. Start on all fours, bringing the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
2. Think of the spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips. Try visualizing the line extending forward through the crown of the head and backwards through the tail bone. This is the position of a neutral spine.
3. Keep the neck long, as the natural extension of the spine.

From this position you will move into Cow pose.  This will be the position that you take when you inhale and then you will move to Cat position when you exhale.

1. Curl your toes under.
2. Drop your belly, but keep your abdominal muscles hugging your spine.
3. Take your gaze up toward the ceiling.
4. Let the movement in your spine start from your tailbone, so that your neck is the last part to move.

As you exhale, you will move into the Cat position that we looked at last week and then repeat the sequence as many times as you like.  This sequence is a great way to start a simple yoga practice and will leave you wanting to try more poses and then start attending a class.  Even if you only use this sequence in the morning to help you wake up and start your day off on right note, you will reap the benefits of this sequence and will start your day off on a better note than usual.

I will keep reporting back with more yoga poses as I learn them and I am hoping to keep my practice up when the semester starts up again.

photo courtesy of Prevention Magazine

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