Oh Cats!

I really want to write to you about Cat pose today, but first I have a little side note on why I should no longer be allowed to watch crime dramas.

There is a round about in our neighborhood where people tend to post signs about garage sales etc. Currently there are 3 signs about missing cats. Did you catch that? THREE! This leads me to believe that we have a budding serial killer in our neighborhood who is currently practicing on small animals. Thank goodness we are moving soon! But, enough about that….on to the yoga.

Yesterday I taught a sample yoga class for kids at a gym where my son goes for “drop-off”. I teach a regular Parent/Child Yoga class there every Thursday which currently only has one participant other than my own children. I am hoping that it catches on and I can continue to teach that class. I also hope that some of the kids in the pre-school age range will start coming to my Children’s Yoga class because those kids are HILARIOUS in yoga. They really get into acting out the animal parts which allows them to release some pent up energy while also teaching them to focus in on what we’re doing to achieve the pose.

In our class yesterday we acted out a yoga story called How The Elephant Got Its Trunk. It’s a great little story that incorporates a lot of different poses that children can relate images to. I noticed that there were two different versions of felines in the story: lions and tigers. I also noticed that neither pose looks anything like the traditional Cat pose that we teach in yoga. I wonder if house cats would be offended to know that yoga does not consider them to look anything like their wild brethren?

Cat pose requires you to get on to all fours (hands and knees) and to arch your spine up to the ceiling like an angry cat or a Halloween cat. While doing this you exhale, tuck your chin and tail bone under, and try to keep your hips over your knees and your shoulders over the heel of your hands. Trust me, it sounds more complicated than it is. Cat pose is most often taught in combination with Cow pose. In Cow pose you start in the same position as Cat pose and instead of arching your spine upward, you instead “droop” your spine as you lift through your tailbone, sternum, and crown of your head. However, you also need to inhale and be sure you’re not throwing your head back and compressing your cervical spine…..again it sounds more technical than it is.

Cat and Cow combination is a flowing motion of poses that improves spinal fluidity and strengthens the low back muscles. For anyone who has ever had low back pain I highly encourage practicing this pose. My favorite way to do it is as a standing version in the shower with the warm water hitting my low back after a long day of lifting kids. It really loosens me up and allows for good sleep.

Cat/Cow is also great for turning a baby into the ready position for birth. This I learned while pregnant with my second child. However, I don’t recommend that a lot of pregnant women start doing Cat/Cow to try and induce labor etc. The extra weight on your abdominal muscles, paired with gravity, can cause rectus diastis…..not a pretty thing to happen to your abs.

If you have kids and want to try a little Cat/Cow with them, encourage them to practice some animal sounds while they move. See if they can build a little upper body strength during Cat by trying to “drink some milk from a bowl” in a mini version of a push-up. Yoga is a great way for kids and parents to spend some time together working on flexibility, balance, and coordination. It can be fun, calming, and teach focus.

Inhale Cow, Exhale Cat. (and keep yours indoors if you live near here!)