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The Cat Stretch - An Excellent Exercise For Your Back

By Suleiha Suguna
Yoga for Anyone


It has always been a wonder as to how cats can survive falls from high places, often with no injuries whatsoever.

This is further strengthened by the common myth that cats have nine lives.

The truth is cats are quite amazing creatures with the ability to move in every direction.

A cat has the ability to save itself from a high fall by simply repositioning itself in air, and landing on its feet.

This remarkable ability of the cat is largely associated with the health of its spine. 

The level of correct spinal alignment is important to assist in the various different functions performed by the backbone which include supporting the trunk that makes all movement possible.

When your spine is injured or misaligned, it impairs the overall functioning of your back causing severe discomfort and limits your ability to move.

The ancient art of Yoga, has always sought to combine the observations from nature and science towards a total understanding to heal the human body.

The cat stretch is one such observation to marvel at. 

It is perhaps the best posture in the aid of any pains and aches related to the spine. It is an excellent posture for the spine as it curves the spine in two directions, releasing any blockage and then returning, the spine to its natural curvature.

When this posture is performed, it causes the spine to stretch and sends oxygen to the spinal cord and the nervous system.

It tones and strengthens the muscles around the spine, and relieves tension in the neck.

The 'cat stretch' is also good for headaches and migraines. Upon practice of the 'cat stretch', you will certainly improve your spinal suppleness and correct the alignment of your back bone.

As you will find out yourself, this is not an exaggerated claim.

The benefits of 'cat stretch' include the following: 

It relieves back aches

It cures any stiffness on the shoulders

Every vertebra is expanded and contracted giving maximum elasticity to the spine

Your stomach muscles are toned It strengthens wrist joints & shoulders

It gives the digestive system a good massage

It helps improves digestion It stimulates the kidneys

In order to perform this posture, simply follow the method prescribed below: 

Kneel on all fours. Your hands and knees are in line with your shoulders. Ensure that the distance between your hands equal to the distance between your knees

Inhale, drop your back and look up. Allow your back to curve downwards

Exhale and let your back arch upwards, pressing your chin to your throat and pulling your stomach to your spine. Hold your breath in this position for a few seconds

Repeat step 2 again. That's one round. Repeat this sequence up to six times

Some hints and cautions you should be aware of include; 

Ensure that your palms are firmly rooted to the ground, and fingers close together

Always maintain straight elbows. Avoid bending them

Focus on only moving the back and not your hips

Ensure that your breathing is rhythmic and synchronized with the movement

This is a fantastic posture you can incorporate as part of your warm-up and static stretching either before or after your workout routine.

The simplicity to perform this posture definitely makes it worth trying.

You will be amazed at the instant relieve it provides your back from the build-up of tension.


Suleiha Suguna, Principal of Maya Yoga Samudraa, is the author of Yoga for Anyone. This book is a collection of some of the most beneficial yoga postures and it is arranged in a manner similar to that of her classes. Supported with hundreds of illustrations, Yoga for Anyone, will help anyone learn yoga the correct way. Suleiha Suguna comes from a lineage of yoga practitioners and has over 40 years experience in yoga. Check out her book today.

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