BITILĀSANĀ (COW POSE)
- Come onto your hands and knees
- Inhale deeply, and exhale to round your back
- Tuck your chin into the chest
- Lift the middle of the back up
- Keep breathing deeply as you get a deep spinal stretch
- Stay for 5 breaths
Bitilāsana, also known as cow pose, is another great way to start a yoga practice. It is often done in conjunction with cat pose, together forming a nice warm up. It helps to release any initial stiffness in the body and gently stretches the entire spine. This asana can be practiced by anyone, of any age and any level. If you have any injuries in the wrists, then precautions are to be taken.
Start by coming onto your hands and knees. Ensure that the hands are directly under the shoulders, keeping the alignment of the arms perpendicular to the ground. Spread the fingers wide apart and press all parts of the hands into the floor. Keep the knees directly under the hips, hip distance apart, and point the toes back. Take a deep inhalation and arch your spine, by drawing the sitting bones up and pressing the naval toward the floor. Lift the chin and chest up, and look up toward the ceiling. Gently pull the shoulders back to open the chest and extend the spine further. Breathe deeply in the pose for 5-10 breaths. Release and follow with Cat pose or child’s pose.
There are several variations to this posture. To increase the arch of the back, you can lift one of the legs up and stretch it out into the air. You can either keep the leg straight and focus on lengthening, or bend the knee and focus on arching the spine further. Stay for five deep breaths and then repeat on the other side. Another option is to raise one of the legs up, bending the knee, and grabbing onto the ankle with the hand of your opposite arm. This increases the arch in the spin, stretches the hipflexors, and also adds an element of balance.
One of the benefits of this posture is that it stretches the front of the body, including the abdomen, chest, neck and throat. It also helps in releasing any tension or stiffness from the back, especially when performed in conjunction with cat pose.
There are no serious counter indications for this asana. If one has a recent wrist or arm injury then adding pressure to those areas may be avoided. To protect sensitive knees, one can keep a blanket or towel under the knees for extra padding.
- Stretches the back and neck
- Open the throat chakra
- Release tension from the lower back
- Strengthens wrists and shoulder
- Wrist / back / neck injuries to avoid this asana
- Stretches Rectus Abdominis