Yoga Bites appears every four weeks.
Yogis say that we are only as young as our spine is supple, and there's a lot of truth to that.
I need not tell you about the rigors of life and the toll they take on your body, especially the spine. Yogis practice poses that decompress and lubricate the spine to create and maintain elasticity and durability, which is the pathway to a more youthful and energetic body.
A common warm-up and cool-down move in yoga practice is Cat's Breath. This simple flowing sequence, or vinyasa, consists of two complimentary poses alternating fluidly back and forth.
Don't be fooled by the simplicity of this power-packed vinyasa; it
brings heaps of treats to the party. The two poses that make up this
flow are Cow (Bitilasana) and Cat (Marjariasana).
Let's begin on hands and knees, stacking shoulders over wrists and
knees under hips with a neutral spine. If this hurts your knees, place a
folded blanket, mat or towel under them. Spread your fingers and palms.
Broaden the soles of your feet. You might like to smile.
Let the breath be the invitation to move. Inhale as you curl your
heart and tail to the sky, dropping the belly toward the earth, like a
contented purring cat. On the exhale curl the tail down and allow the
spine to respond naturally to this wave as it ripples all the way up the
Press what's down, down more, and feel the corresponding lift that
creates at center as you draw your navel in toward the spine and round
your back high like a Halloween cat. Allow all of your worldly concerns
to exit right out the top of your head, down into the earth to be
transmuted. Continue this spinal dance letting the breath lead. Move
slowly and gently as you follow your breath's natural rhythms.
When arching in Cow keep the energy in your shoulders looping back
and down, encouraging the shoulder blades to integrate fully onto your
back ribs, which then lifts your heart and opens your chest from behind.
Press down into your fingertips while drawing energy up through the
center of your palms, up into your shoulders, keeping the head of the
arm bones engaged in their sockets. Hug muscle to bone. Practice this
for three to five minutes a day this week, and observe the effects of
this healing tonic for your three treasures, your body, mind and spirit.
Mooing and meowing are optional. Many yogis like to add Lion's Breath
by reversing the breath and exhaling fiercely through the mouth when
arching into Cow, sticking the tongue out and down with wide eyes.
Feel free to roar here. Let your neighbors hear it. Be playful, let
go, and let flow. If you're craving more adventure today, continue this
vinyasa with your knees lifted one inch up off the mat for several
breath cycles. Enjoy the release and relaxation these moments of
Sarah Hundley, a certified yoga instructor and massage therapist,
owns Shambala Studio in Crescent City. Email her at