If I could call Cat-Cow something else, I would call it the wake-up-your-spine pose. Cat Cow pose is actually two poses used together in a sequence. The pose starts with you on all fours, with your shoulders over your hands, hips above knees, and spine in a neutral position. Cow is generally first. For cow, on an inhale, arch your back, lifting your butt and chest up, bringing your gaze forward and up, but not so much that your neck bends and your breathing is restricted. Draw your shoulder blades away from your neck. This should be done very slowly. On the exhale, release the arch in your back, returning your spine to neutral, or level with the ground. Now comes Cat pose. Continue to exhale, and round your spine, bringing your chest and butt closer to the ground, and reaching the middle part of your back up as high as possible. Your gaze shifts to the floor, and you exhale as completely as possible. Then on an inhale, you raise your chest and butt up, arching your back, to return to cow. Repeat this sequence anywhere from 5 – 10 times.
Tip: Make sure that you’re not using cow as an opportunity to look at the ceiling. You don’t want to constrict your neck and restrict your breathing. Also, try and slow down your breathing as much as possible. Cat Cow is a good pose to start off a workout, and it’s at this time that you usually want to begin to slow down your breathing so that you can control your parasympathetic nervous system, and prevent your fight or flight reflexes from activating, so that you can maintain control throughout the session.
Modification: Try doing this in a public place on top of a wall or elevated surface, and see what kind of reactions you get. There’s not a lot of modifications for this pose.