YogaAndBackCare - Cat posture

Cat posture

The cat pose is extremely good for exercising the muscles that weave their way around the spine, the erector spinae group and the transversospinalis group are all asked to engage in this posture.

I have changed how I do this posture since I have attended the pelvic health course because it lends itself to a conscious movement of the coccyx, the tail bone towards the pubic bone which helps your pelvic floor strengthen.

Before we start, let's think breathing!

When you are in cat down, you are breathing in.

When you are in cat up and arched you are breathing out or even holding your breathing still before you come into cat down and an in breath.

Start by study your breathing.

If you are a beginner, it is enough to breath in for a count of four elephants and then out for a count of four elephants and keep a steady rhythm.

At all stages in this posture, if you find your breathing is becoming stressed and laboured, just take yourself into cat down and let your body's natural breathing mechanism take over. Once you are happy that your breath is steady, then you can try again going into cat up on an out breath.

Once you are comfortable with a steady in-out breathing, think of a square, each side is a count of four elephants, "one elephant, two elephants, three elephants, four elephants". Now what we are aiming for is to breath in for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, breath out for a count of four and then and this feels very unnatural, not breathing in for a count of four.

This is not easy. Remember you can always go back to cat down and just let the body take over, so do not get stressed if you find it difficult to get the breathing pattern. It will come eventually!

Cat down, the back should be in neutral spine position and you are on all fours. See the photo.

Starting position for cat down shown by yoga teacher in Cardiff

Now before you begin to curl your back, spend a moment trying to bring your tail bone underneath you and imagine you are moving it towards the pubic bone. Imagine the pubic bone is moving towards the middle of your rib cage. If you get this movement right, your bottom will tuck under a little bit. This is not shown in the photograph. If you are lucky enough to have a partner who is willing to watch you do this posture, they should notice a tilting of your pelvic area when you draw the coccyx towards the pubic bone.

Imagine you are a very angry cat and you want to hiss like mad at that other nasty creature in the room ( in our household .. the dog) curl your back upwards as in the photo at the top.


If you haven't eaten for over three hours, then you can take this posture to another level by sucking your stomach in high against your backbone. WARNING Do not attempt this if you have eaten within the three hours.

If you have eaten you can still make sure that you tightening your stomach muscles to help the back make its curved shape.

When you have mastered this posture completely, it will be

cat down .. breath in... four counts

coccyx forward towards pubic bone.. first two counts of the held breath

cat up remaining ten counts ( ideally with stomach sucked in.... but not if you have recently eaten .. remember?!)

This is a posture that is good to do first thing in the morning when the back has stiffened up over night to get mobility back and remove any pain from overnight stiffening ( happens as you get older )

Try and do at least five cat movements every time you do this posture. Enjoy. mi-ow, mi-ooowwww!