Cow
BITILĀSANA (उष्ट्रासन)
(bit-ill-AHH-sah-nah)

 


‘Bitila’= cow, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Dog Tilt Pose (Svanasana)

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. Inhale, using your diaphragm to expand your belly. Arch the spine by pressing your hips down and raising the tailbone to the sky. At the same time, start to lift the chest forward and up while slightly tilting the chin up. Feel the abdomen lengthen and drop toward the floor. This helps create a ‘U’ shape with the spine. Arch your back as far as is comfortable.
4. Open your chest and drop your shoulders, bringing the shoulder blades toward each other and flat. Imagine drawing the collar bones apart. Keep the neck soft.
5. Hold for a couple of breaths using your core muscles for stability.
6. When you are ready, release and exhale back to Table Pose (Bharmanasana) or Cat Pose (Marjaryasana).

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
• Gazing down
• Too much weight on the wrists
• Elbows are locked

Modifications
• 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
• Cat (Marjaryasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
• Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
• Wide Child’s Pose (Prasarita Balasana)
• Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)

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

Benefits
• Stretches the spine, neck, and shoulders and improves flexibility while lengthening the spine. It also strengthening the arms, abdomen, shoulders / shoulder joints, hips / hip joints, wrists, and back which improves posture / alignment. It also 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 benefit).
• Improves circulation and digestion by massaging internal organs and abdomen muscles. Also stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands and aids with menstrual discomfort.
• Relieves tension around the neck, shoulders, middle and lower back by loosening and relaxing them. This relaxes the mind, reduces stress, and 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.
• Sharpens focus.

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.
Chakra 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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