By Lauren Fournier, PT, DPT
Two common poses in yoga are the cat and cow poses. These are typically done in a tabletop position (on all fours) and can have many great benefits for the spine. The cat pose lengthens the back extensors, strengthens the abdominal muscles and shoulder protractors while the cow pose improves thoracic and lumbar extension and anterior pelvic tilting, lengthens the neck flexors and anterior chest wall. These poses can be done while seated if getting to the floor is not easy or if you are looking to loosen up while working long hours at a desk.
- Start in a seated position with your hands on your knees.
- On an inhale, drawing an imaginary line with your nose, look up and allow the heart to stretch out towards the opposite wall as you gently push through your arms.
- Pause briefly at the top.
- Exhale, rounding your back, pushing into your hands, and tucking your pelvis under.
- Repeat ~ 5 times or to your desired amount, making sure not to feel lightheaded or any increased pain in the low back.
Precautions: spinal stenosis, facet arthritis, spondylolisthesis
Also, as a cautionary tale: If you have pets at home DO NOT use incense sticks or air diffusers that use these essential oils:
- Oil of wintergreen
- Oil of sweet birch
- Citrus oil
- Pine oils
- Peppermint oil
- Ylang Ylang oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Pennyroyal oil
- Clove oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Tea tree oil
These are TOXIC to animals and unfortunately, I found this out the hard way. Thankfully, my cat is fine now, but it was a close call, and I don’t want anyone’s pet to have to experience that.