Two Great Ways to Practice Cow Pose–How to Use the Cow Yoga Pose to Stretch Your Spine

In this post: Cow pose is a great way to open the upper back and stretch the spine. So far in my studies, I have come across two different ways to practice this pose.

cow pose cow yoga pose

cow pose cow yoga poseCow pose is commonly done in conjunction with Cat pose. While Cat pose takes your spine into flexion, Cow pose takes your spine into extension.

There are two different ways that you can practice Cow pose. Both ways are correct and both ways have benefits.

It’s up to you to choose which one suits you best. However, don’t forget that variety is the spice of life. Change it up once in a while and practice the other version. This way, you will continue to challenge your body.

Here’s why and how to practice both versions of the Cow yoga pose correctly.

Why You Should Practice Cow Pose

The Cow yoga pose is a great heart-opening pose that people of all levels can appreciate. When you practice this pose, you’re strengthening crucial spinal muscles like the erector spinae, stretching abdominal muscles, and opening the heart chakra.

The heart chakra is known as the source of love, compassion, and forgiveness. If you’ve been feeling troubled emotionally, practicing some heart-opening poses can really help.

An extra benefit of Cow pose is that it helps reverse the effects of bending over a keyboard or electronic device all day. By allowing your head to lift and your spine to extend, you are allowing yourself to fully stretch.

How to Do Cow Pose for Just Your Upper Back

  1. Use ujjayi breathing.
  2. Begin on your hands and knees in Table pose. Take the time to ensure everything is in good alignment. You want to particularly make sure your pelvis is in neutral and you’re pushing the floor away from you.
  3. Draw your abdominals to your spine.
  4. Inhale and let your heart rotate forward. As you do this, your head will lift slightly, but it’s not your main goal. Instead, you really want to feel a stretch between your shoulder blades as your upper back opens.
  5. Exhale and lengthen back to a long line.
  6. Practice several rounds of this version of Cow pose.

How to Do Cow Pose  for Your Whole Spine

  1. Use ujjayi breathing.
  2. Begin on your hands and knees in Table pose. Take the time to ensure everything is in good alignment. You want to particularly make sure your pelvis is in neutral and you’re pushing the floor away from you.
  3. Draw your abdominals to your spine.
  4. Inhale here.
  5. Exhale and round up to Cat pose. Feel how your spine is completely flexed and curved.
  6. Inhale to lengthen to a long spine then allow your heart to rotate forward, your head to lift, and your low back to arch. Basically, you are doing the complete opposite of the movements that you did for Cat pose.
  7. Exhale to lengthen to a long spine then round up to Cat pose.
  8. Practice several rounds of this Cat/Cow combination.
  9. When you are finished, end with a long spine.

For the Visual Learners…

Here is a video of how to practice Cow pose just for you.

Before You Practice the Cow Yoga Pose, Don’t Forget…

You should never feel pain in your low back. If you do feel low back pain, it’s likely that your abdominals are not working.

Even though Cow pose is about strengthening spinal muscles and stretching the abdominals, the abdominal muscles should still be working in some capacity.

Make sure you feel your belly button lift toward your spine before you start to move into your preferred version of Cow pose.

Are you interested in learning the basics of yoga and Pilates from the privacy of your own home? Sign up for my FREE 30-day program, and I’ll teach you how to safely practice many popular yoga poses and Pilates exercises.

Which version of Cow pose do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

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