Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Asanas (Yoga Poses) Glossary

What is Marjaryasana (Cat Pose)?

Marjaryasana, also known as Cat Pose, is a popular yoga pose that is often practiced as part of a flow sequence or as a standalone pose. The name “Marjaryasana” comes from the Sanskrit words “marjari” meaning cat and “asana” meaning pose. This pose is named after the way a cat stretches its back when it wakes up from a nap. Marjaryasana is a gentle and calming pose that helps to stretch and strengthen the spine, while also promoting flexibility in the back and shoulders.

How to perform Marjaryasana?

To perform Marjaryasana, start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are hip-width apart. As you inhale, arch your back and lift your head and tailbone towards the ceiling, creating a concave shape in your spine. This is the “cat” portion of the pose. As you exhale, round your back and tuck your chin towards your chest, creating a convex shape in your spine. This is the “cow” portion of the pose. Repeat this sequence, flowing smoothly between cat and cow poses, for several breaths.

What are the benefits of practicing Marjaryasana?

Practicing Marjaryasana offers a variety of physical and mental benefits. Some of the key benefits include:
– Stretching and strengthening the spine
– Improving flexibility in the back and shoulders
– Massaging and stimulating the digestive organs
– Relieving stress and tension in the body
– Promoting relaxation and mindfulness

What muscles are targeted in Marjaryasana?

Marjaryasana primarily targets the muscles of the back, shoulders, and core. The cat portion of the pose stretches and strengthens the muscles along the spine, including the erector spinae and multifidus muscles. The cow portion of the pose engages the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, as well as the muscles of the shoulders and chest.

What are some variations of Marjaryasana?

There are several variations of Marjaryasana that can be practiced to modify the pose or add a challenge. Some common variations include:
– Extended Cat Pose: In this variation, extend one arm and the opposite leg out to create a longer line from fingertips to toes.
– Thread the Needle: From tabletop position, reach one arm under the opposite arm and thread it through, stretching the shoulder and upper back.
– Cat-Cow Flow: Instead of holding each pose, flow smoothly between cat and cow poses with each breath.

How to modify Marjaryasana for different levels of flexibility?

For those with limited flexibility in the spine or shoulders, there are modifications that can be made to make Marjaryasana more accessible. Some modifications include:
– Using props: Place a block under the hands to reduce the distance to the floor and make it easier to maintain proper alignment.
– Taking a wider stance: Instead of keeping the knees hip-width apart, widen the stance to reduce strain on the hips and knees.
– Using a chair: If getting down on the floor is challenging, practice Marjaryasana seated in a chair with the hands on the thighs.

In conclusion, Marjaryasana is a versatile and beneficial yoga pose that can be practiced by yogis of all levels. By incorporating this pose into your regular practice, you can improve flexibility, strength, and mindfulness while relieving stress and tension in the body. Experiment with different variations and modifications to find the version of Marjaryasana that works best for your body and level of flexibility.