One can reap many benefits by practicing Cat and Cow pose regularly. Among these benefits it includes mental, physical and spiritual levels.
Although the actual exercise looks quite “simple” it is actually very powerful in relieving stress in the body and the mind. It is the actual connection of the breath to the movement (vinyasa) that helps create the calm in the mind. The body and mind connection is bridged together with the breath which is the vehicle to carry prana (life force energy) into the body. The focus of inhaling and exhaling with each movement stimulates the focus thus brings in calm into the mind. The gentle movement of the spine into flexion and extension lubricates the vertebra and helps open the spaces in between the vertebrae and loosen muscles and connective tissue, thus relieving any stress in the back.
The movement of the spine in flexion and extension increases flexibility in the shoulders, neck, spine, hips abdomen, chest and the lungs. It is essentially a full body exercise especially the core area of the body. The Cat/Cow stretch increases flexibility thus increases strength in the entire spine. This exercise is particularly good to alleviate menstrual cramping, low back pain and even sciatica.
The movement of Cat/Cow stimulate the chakras (energy centers along the spine). The sixth chakra (point of intuition) Ajna, the throat (Vishudda) and heart (Anahata) chakras are stimulated in cow. The sacral (Swadisthana), Root (Muladhara) and Solar Plexus chakras are stimulated in both cat and cow.
Balancing our energy centers brings balance in all aspects of life. Massaging the spine in these poses allow for the energy centers to have an open pathway along the spine known as the Sushmana or energy column.
So next time you feel you need to loosen up your back, perhaps try Cat and Cow movements not only to get the physical benefits but to also reap benefits mentally and spiritually.