Take a Break: Pre-natal Cat/Cow aka Cat/Camel Pose

If you have followed these posts in order you deserve a well earned rest. Well, an active rest... this is an exercise blog after all. The next two blog posts will take you through two exercises taken from many yoga practises designed to promote rest and relaxation. 

The Cat/Cow...

...pose is a simple exercise that allows you to release out tension along your whole spine by promoting movement at each individual vertebrae by opening and closing of your little facet joints. These joints can be under quite a lot of load during pregnancy particularly in your lower back.

This blog post will take you through each simple step of the exercise. The simplicity of this exercise is what makes it so effective as you can focus your mind on synching your breathing with each movement and creating a deep internal stretch which will flow from your diaphragm through to the muscles between each of your ribs and the muscle between each little vertebra in your spine. This combination of deep breathing and slow rhythmic movement is a great way to promote mental relaxation, which will definitely come in handy on your big day. 

When:

  • Any time during your day
  • A great warm up and cool down to any exercise routine you have
  • When you just can’t be bothered to do a full exercise routine (we all have those days, lets be honest!). Taking a few minutes before bed to do a few repetitions (3 sets of 3 reps will do the trick) will help to wind down and shake off some of the tension from your day, and relax your mind; this will make for a more restful nights sleep.

How:

Start: On all fours, knees and feet hip width apart and your hands directly under your shoulders. Relax your shoulders away from your ears, by lightly pulling your shoulder blades downwards and towards your spine.

Gently tighten your pelvic floor muscles and chin tuck to bring your head in line with you body and to maintain a flat back.

Your start position should look like this. Keep your elbows straight throughout the exercise. Photo credit: Google images (please contact us if this is your image so we can reference and credit you)

Your start position should look like this. Keep your elbows straight throughout the exercise. Photo credit: Google images (please contact us if this is your image so we can reference and credit you)

There are two movement's involved:

1. Push your tailbone and head up to the ceiling to create a big dip down along your whole spine. (INHALE)  = like a cow

2. Push your belly button up towards your spine and tucking your tailbone under to create a big arch up towards the ceiling with your whole spine. (EXHALE) = like a cat

The exercise should really be called the Cow/Cat as naturally you breath in first right... 

So....

Action: Inhale deeply and slowly (4-6 seconds). Feel the air travel down to your belly as your belly moves closer to the floor. Push your chest up towards the ceiling to create more space for your lungs to fill with air. Cow Pose.

Your little lower back facet joints are closing up during this movement.

Your little lower back facet joints are closing up during this movement.

Then..

Your little facet joints are opening up and you are stretch each little muscles between each of your vertebra.

Your little facet joints are opening up and you are stretch each little muscles between each of your vertebra.

As you begin your slow long exhale, reverse the dip in your spine to create an arch up towards the ceiling. Push your hands firmly into the floor, let your head tuck down between your arms and your shoulder blades spread wide. Force all the air up and out of your belly and lungs by pulling your belly button up towards your spine and tucking your tailbone under. Cat Pose.

This is one repetition.

Repeat: a total of 3 lots of 8 - 10 repetitions. Focus on making each breath as deep and long as possible.

Return to your flat back position and breath normally between sets.

Couple...

... with 'Child's pose', which we will run though in the next blog post titled 'Take a break: Child's pose'. Child's pose is a great resting pose which can be used to link your sets of Cat/Cow together to make a great little yoga flow.