Table Cat Cow: Synchronizing Body And Breath

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Table Cat Cow: A Mindful Meditation in Motion

by Mike Munro

Table cat cow is one of the common warm up exercises or movements in many yoga classes. It has many benefits and actions that are helpful for any level of student. In table pose you get the benefits of strengthening the arms, the hands and wrists and the spine is free to lengthen without any compression whatsoever, as the body weight is spread out over the hands and knees. From this position the spine is also able to move about with more freedom that other positions where the spine tends to take weight. This makes it an effective and safe warm up and toning exercise for the joints of the spine and all the muscles supporting it.

Table Pose:

 

When the yogi moves into table it is important to create some foundation in the pose, grounding the finger tips and knuckles and straightening the arms until they feel strong but not too jarred at the elbows. The hips are directly over the knees which can be padded with a blanket if the knees are sensitive to the pressure on the floor.

The Cat stretch lengthens the muscles and fascia at the back of the trunk and shortens the front of the body where you can get some abdominal action by lifting your navel towards your spine. Breathe out with Cat pose to help the navel lift to the spine to tone the abdominal muscles.

Cat pose:

 

The Cow stretch creates a lengthening and stretching of the front of the spine and abdomen. Breathe in to open the chest more and deepen the expansion of the front of the body in cow pose. The back muscles shorten and tone as you stretch open the front body.

Cow pose:

 

Synchronizing Body and Breath

To take the movement further in to the yoga experience, practice exhaling to cat and inhaling to cow back and fourth a number of times to join the breathing with the movement. With relaxed and focused attention the yogi can train in linking movement and breath as a way of synchronizing body and mind. By synchronizing body and mind in these simple poses you set up the practice for the rest of the session so that all of the movements can become a mindful meditation in motion. When you join the body and mind with breath and movement you are living in the moment. This quality and experience can be developed with practice on the mat and carry over into daily life.