Alright, today we're going to be doing Cat-Cow! This is a great stretch for the spine, also engages the abdominals, and works our quadruped position.
Benefits of the Cat-Cow Pilates Exercise
• Eases back, shoulder, and neck pain.
• Revitalizes the spine by loosening muscles and increasing flexibility.
• Allows you to really focus on breath to calm you and help you relax.
• The arch of the cow stretches your neck and also the front of your torso.
• The curve of the cat relieves stress, lengthens the spine, and improves circulation to the delicate discs between your vertebrae.
We're going to start in a Quadruped, on all fours. Make sure that your hands are slightly in front of the shoulders, so not right underneath, but a little bit in front. That helps activate the upper back. Have your knees lined up with your hips, and feet lined up with your knees—so we're all in alignment here. You'll want to have your hips over your knees as much as possible, so you're not back behind, or forward. Find a nice neutral position of the spine, to make sure that you are not starting in an arched position, or in a curved thoracic bend position, but that nice, neutral, long spine, thinking about reaching out through the crown of the head, as well as reaching out through the sit bones behind you.
Are you soft in the chest? You don't want to be holding that tension in your neck. So, you don't want to lift up too much in the chest and get that tension in the upper traps. Try to soften in the chest a little bit, relax the neck, reaching through the crown of your head, out through the sit bones—toes curled under. You can also have them down flat if your toes don't like being curled.
Moving forward with the Cat-Cow. Take a breath in, and then on the exhale, move into a thoracic bend. Let your neck release, and think about pulling the inner thighs in toward each other, hollowing out the belly, and pulling your ribs up toward the ceiling, really trying to get that nice, thoracic bend. And then when you inhale, go into the cow, which is not just a sink into the back.
We should actually be thinking about the heart rising up toward the ceiling as much as possible, and not just leading with your chin. Then on the exhale, go back into the cat, pulling the inner thighs in toward each other, activating your pelvic floor, transverse abs, abdominals, pulling your ribs up, letting your neck relax. Now on inhale, go into the cow, into the extension, thinking heart to ceiling, not just leading with the chin, not just sinking in the back, but lots of lift in the belly.
Exhale back into the cat, and then inhale into the cow.
Always make sure that you're moving with your breath. Exhaling, and then inhaling.
In the video, I was doing it a little slower in the beginning because I had a lot of cueing I wanted to give you, but you definitely want to feel like you're moving with the breath. You don't want to feel any numbing, burning, or tingling sensations. You do want to feel your inner thighs and abdominals engaged. That is your Cat-Cow Pilates Stretch.
So really, it's about trying to find that spinal mobility, engaging in the abs, feeling that connection of the inner thighs into the transverse abs, into the abdominals, and feeling that mobility of the spine in both deflection and the extension.
If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one. — Dolly Parton
Alright, my friends, I'm grateful that I'm learning and deciding to make decisions based on what I truly want, and not based on fear and what I'm afraid of losing. So, I'm working more toward the lifestyle of my dreams, and I'm grateful for that, and I wish the same for you.
Alright, until next time. Take care. And thanks for being here with me.