summer yoga series: cat cow

Last summer I did a weekly book review series “summer reads” (life in the balance, the great work of your life, WHOLE, enlightenment for idiots, prions, may you be happy, and poser) and this year I’m going to provide you with a weekly yoga pose. Something simple that you can integrate into your own yoga practice, or maybe inspire you to start a yoga practice of your own.

Simple movements that bring body awareness, improve range of motion and balance can be really beneficial for people with Parkinson’s.

We’re going to start simple – Cat / Cow.

Both the Cat and Cow poses stretch the lower spine, hips, back and core muscles. They also also open the chest and lungs allowing for easier breathing. This is beneficial in Parkinson’s to address stooped posture that may impair balance, and rigidity in the torso muscles that may restrict breath. Practicing the Cat and Cow poses may improve posture and promote a healthy spine.

Benefits:

  • Stretches muscles of the hips, back, and abdomen
  • Stimulates organs including gastrointestinal tract
  • Aids breathing by stretching chest and lungs
  • Relieves lower back pain and sciatica

 

cat-cow-neutral

neutral spine

cat pose

cat pose

cow pose

cow pose

How to:

  • Start by kneeling on your hands and knees, and gaze at a spot on the floor about three feet in front of you. Place your knees under your hips and wrists slightly forward of your shoulders.
  • Inhale and slowly round your spine toward the ceiling. Drop your head toward the floor but do not force your chin into your chest. Make sure you keep your arms and legs perpendicular to the floor. This is “Cat Pose”.
  • Exhale and slowly bring your spine back to starting position returning your gaze to the original spot.
  • Inhale and lift both your chest and tailbone to the ceiling while curving your back down towards the floor. Raise your head up and look to where the ceiling meets the wall, but do not force your head back and stress your neck. Keep your knees down and make sure your weight is distributed evenly in hands, placing a bit more weight into the base of your index finger and thumb. This is “Cow Pose”.
  • Exhale and slowly bring your spine back to starting position returning your gaze to the original spot at which you started. Repeat this alternating Cat and Cow pose with each inhale and exhale.  Do this10 to 20 times.

* If you have wrist pain and are unable to place weight on your wrists during the pose, you can drop down to your elbows and rest your forearms on the floor as you do the poses.

wrist-free cat pose

wrist-free cat pose

wrist-free cow pose

wrist-free cow pose

* If you have neck pain, keep your head in a neutral alignment with your spine during the poses and do not raise or lower your head.

* If you have knee pain, you can roll up a yoga mat or towel and place it under your knees for support. This can alleviate pressure and pain in your knees while on the ground.

rolled up blanket to avoid knee pain

rolled up blanket to avoid knee pain

* You can also perform these postures seated or standing.

seated cat / cow

seated cat / cow

 

standing cat / cow

standing cat / cow

A great start to your summer yoga! Much love.

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