Cat
MĀRJĀRYĀSANA (मर्जर्यसन)
(mahr-jahr-ee-AH-sah-nah)

 


‘Mārjāra’= cat, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Cat Tilt

Cat Stretch
Billiasana
Bidalasana
Viralasana

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Back-Bend / Stretch / Kneeling

1. Start in Table Pose (Bharmanasana), on your hands and knees, with your knees under your hips and your shoulders over your wrists.
2. Make sure your calf muscles are parallel to each other with the tops of your feet face down and your toes pointing straight back. Press down through your palms and knees as you spread your fingers and ground yourself to the mat. Be sure not to lock your elbows.
3. Take a deep breath and then exhale as you begin to slowly round your spine. Engage your core to pull your navel up into the spine.
4. Tuck in your tailbone and continue push down through your fingers and palms so that you can pull your spine further toward the sky.
5. Lower your head toward the mat and tuck in your chin to rest on your chest. Make sure to keep the neck soft as you continue to round your spine.
6. Hold for a couple of breaths using your core muscles for stability.
7. When you are ready, release and inhale back to Table Pose (Bharmanasana) or move into Cow Pose (Bitilasana).

Common Adjustments
• Strained neck
• Shoulders raised up by ears
• Movement is too quick
• Knees are not in line with hips
• Shoulders are not in line with wrists
• Head is in too far down
• Too much weight on the wrists
• Elbows are locked

Modifications
• Students with a neck injury, should gaze down at the mat and not tuck in their chin.
• For students with wrist injuries, they can either: a) elevate their wrists with a blanket, folded mat, or bolster, b) form fists and practice on knuckles, or c) go down to their forearms (with or without a block).
• Students with knee injuries can place a folded blanket or bolster under their knees for support.
• For students who have trouble balancing or feel discomfort in their ankles, have them curl their toes under for stability and/or add a blanket under the ankles for comfort.
• To get a deeper stretch, have students look over one shoulder, while squeezing the hip and shoulder on that side towards each other. Repeat on the other side.

Counter Poses
• Cow (Bitilasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Anatomy
• Neck and Shoulders (Deltoids)• Chest (Pectoralis Major)
• Biceps and Triceps• Abdomen (Core) and Hips (Iliopsoas)
• Lower (Lumbar), Middle (Thoracic) and Upper (Cervical) Back and Spine• Gluteus Maximus
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles

Benefits
• Stretches the spine and shoulders and improves flexibility while strengthening the arms, abdomen, shoulders, wrists, and back. It also strengthens the hip, knee, and shoulder joints. This makes this posture therapeutic for students with mild carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, tendonitis and lower back injuries (may need to use props to get this therapeutic benefit).
• Improves circulation and digestion by massaging internal organs and abdomen muscles. Also stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid.
• Relieves tension around the neck, shoulders, middle and lower back by loosening and relaxing them. This reduces stress, aids with menstrual discomfort, is good for pre/postnatal students as well as students with Fibromyalgia. It is also good for students with insomnia as it encourages good sleep.
• Opens the chest, lower back, throat, shoulders, and abdominal cavity.

Contraindications
1. Student with severe neck, shoulders, wrist, hips, knees, or back injuries should avoid this pose or use a modification or prop.
2. Students with high blood pressure, migraines, spondylitis, severe carpal tunnel syndrome, or arthritis in the knees and wrists, should avoid this posture unless doing a modification or using a prop and guidance.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Charka Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbook

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Durga-Go – Cat and Cow Pose”. *This section covers Cat and Cow.
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Durga-Go” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.

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