This seated version of Cat pose is a great way to counteract the tendency to round forward when you sit in front of your computer, laptop, or tablet, or commute in your car. For those who tend to assume a head forward position, this pose returns your head to a healthier alignment over your shoulders. And moving back and forth between arching and rounding your spine strengthens the muscles that support your head in a more even way. For all of us, moving your spine back and forth between flexion (rounded) and extension (arched) helps keep your spine healthy by providing nourishment to the bones and disks.
Because you move rhythmically with your breath in this pose, you take in more oxygen, which has a positive effect on your respiratory system and can help if you get winded easily. In addition, moving with your breath is a stimulating, which may perk you up when you are feeling sluggish and can help you focus your concentration. It’s a good way to kick start your practice when you are feeling fatigued or depressed. After you start gently moving in this pose, you may feel ready for some larger movements.
This pose is perfect for an office or traveling yoga practice because you can do it in any attire, anywhere there is a chair. It’s also a good alternative to Cat pose on the floor for anyone who has problem putting weight on their hands or trouble getting down to and up from the floor.
Baxter prescribes this pose for:
• general stiffness in neck, upper back and lower back
• lower back pain
• head-forward syndrome
• lack of concentration
• improving breathing, if you get winded easily
• safe exercise for scoliosis or osteoporosis because it is gentle, though effective
• alternative to Cat pose on the floor for those with wrist problems
Instructions: Sit at the front edge of your chair, with your feet about hips-width apart and flat on the floor, and your knees parallel to each other. With your arms relatively straight, rest your hands on your knees or thighs. Lengthen your spine from your sitting bones up through the crown of your head, establishing as much space between the bones of the spine as you can.
Cautions: This is a very safe pose that’s suitable for almost everyone! Naturally if you have a condition that causes pain when you do this pose, you should approach it with carefully, avoiding it entirely if it causing any flare-ups.