How To Perform Cat Pose

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chloe Freytag demonstrating Cat Pose in a black tank top and yoga pants

Cat pose is a pose anyone can do to stretch the back and promote spinal flexibility. Anyone can learn how to do cat pose and it remains valuable for both the beginner and the advanced practitioner.

Generally used in conjunction with Cow Pose, Cat Pose is a wonderful way to keep the spine mobile and teach the back to move with articulation – or one vertebrae at a time.

Habitually, we tend to move in large, more structure movements with our spines. This creates an inflexibility in the back which can lead to injury. For instance, if your back is stiff and you suddenly twist or bend to catch yourself from falling on the ice or to grab someone who is falling near you, the back muscles can easily be pulled or the discs moves out of position.

When spinal flexibility positions are practiced on a regular basis, the back has prepared for such quick twists or bends and is less likely to experience an injury.

According to the CDC, back pain strikes 80 percent of the people in our population at some time in their life. This makes it imperative that we teach our spines to be more flexible through poses such as Cat and Cow.

Think about it, your back health means everything when it comes to living your life fully! Keeping a healthy spine is crucial and part of that includes flexibility training. If you are looking for more ways to alleviate back pain, try these 12 Poses To Help Alleviate Back Pain.

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    How To Do Cat Pose

    When performing this pose be sure to draw the low abdominal muscles toward the spine as you curve into the cat posture. In addition, relax the head forward and let the cervical spine follow the natural curve of the rest of the back. Tuck your tailbone slightly and breathe.

    See cat/cow pose demonstrated at 0:05 seconds in video below.

    Here are the steps to performing Cat Pose:

    1) Begin on your hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.

    2) Start with your spine in a “neutral” or long position, then slowly tuck your tailbone and lower the crown of your head so your back gently rounds.

    3) Draw your naval up to your spine and breathe gently as you hold the stretch.

    What Muscles Does Cat Pose Work?

    This yoga pose stretches the back and promotes spinal flexibility. Whether you are a beginner or have been doing yoga for years, you can and should do this stretch every day!

    Benefits of Cat Pose

    There are many reasons you should incorporate cat pose into your workouts. Here are just a few:

    Promotes Spinal Flexibility

    Cat pose is a movement that stretches the back and keeps the back flexible. When you round your spine in a slow, controlled exercise like cat stretch, it is one of the best ways to keep your back healthy.

    Stretches Upper Back and Shoulders

    Cat pose is a movement that stretches the entire back. We focus our attention on our lower back muscles more often because that is a common place for injury. However, the upper back and space between the shoulders can get very tight from working at a desk, hunching over a computer, or driving a car too much. Cat pose stretches the neck and upper back, especially when you put your chin to your chest.

    Improves Core Strength and Stability

    Cat pose is a great stretch but it also encourages you to pull your lower abs in as you move through the pose. Sometimes a great core move is hard to tackle, but cat pose can be done by anyone and still provides benefits to your core and all stabilizer muscles.

    How Many Calories Does Cat Pose Burn?

    People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at higher intensity.

    Cat pose is not meant to be a big calorie burning exercise. Flexibility and mobility in your spine are crucial for any other kind of calorie burning to take place! If your back goes out, you won’t be exercising!

    Other Exercises Similar to Cat Pose

    If you like the cat pose and the results you get from it, here are a few more exercises you might want to try.

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    Incorporating Cat Pose Into Your Workouts

    Cat pose is a great yoga pose that you can do every day! Here are some other workouts you might want to try that incorporate cat pose.

    Use Cat Pose In A Core Body Workout

    Working on core strength is the foundation for all other workouts! If your core is strong your other movement will be more efficient and you will have fewer injuries. This is a great core strength and low back workout for you to try including cat pose as an exercise. Cat pose can prepare the spine for your workout and stretch the spine following a workout. That’s what you’ll see in this plan!

    Core Strength and Stability Workout: Go through each move below with no break in between. Some things you will do for the number of repetitions listed and some things will be held for specific amounts of time. It is a great combination of isometrics and dynamic movement.

    Cat Pose: 5 times

    Inchworm: Warm up with inchworm 4-5 times

    Push-Up to Side Plank: 8 total; 4 per side

    Superman: 8-10 times

    Full-Body Roll-Ups: 5 times

    Side Plank Scoops: 8 per side

    Double Leg Stretch: 8 times

    Cat Pose: 5 times

    Use Cat Pose In A Yoga Workout

    Yoga is a great workout for anyone to try. It is also a great way to keep your body flexible and healthy for all the other workouts you want to do. This yoga workout includes cat pose and is a great practice to try at home.

    At Home Yoga Practice

    Cat-Cow– (5 repetitions)

    Downward dog – Plank – Chaturanga – Upward Dog – (repeat series 5 times)

    Crescent Lunge Right – Warrior 2 – Reverse Warrior – Warrior 3

    Downward dog – Plank – Chaturanga – Upward Dog –Downward Dog

    Crescent Lunge Left – Warrior 2 – Reverse Warrior – Warrior 3

    Downward dog – Plank – Chaturanga – Upward Dog –Downward Dog


    Bird Dog

    Child’s Pose

    Use Cat Pose in a Core Blast Workout

    It only takes 4 or 5 good moves to get a complete core workout and cover virtually every muscle group in your middle. Cat yoga pose is a great way to start and end a core workout and is included in this overall core strength challenge.

    Core Body Blast Workout

    Cat Pose – 5 times

    Forearm plank – Hold 30 seconds

    Modified Side Plank Crunch – 10 reps right, 10 reps left

    Bird Dog – 30 seconds each side

    Scissors – 30 seconds

    Cat Pose – 5 times

    Repeat if desired!

    Here are 3 more yoga workouts that include cat or cow pose:

    10 Yoga Poses You Should Do Every Day

    6 Yoga Poses To Relieve Anxiety

    12 Yoga Poses To Alleviate Back Pain

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