Bidalasana (Cat Pose)

Bidalasana (Cat Pose)


What is Bidalasana (Cat Pose)

Bidalasana (Cat Pose)

Bidalasana, also known as Marjariasana or Cat Pose, is a core and spine awakening posture that is usually performed during warm-up routines.  

In this pose, the spinal column is rounded and pointed towards the ceiling to resemble a cat rounding its back. Bidalasana provides a gentle massage to the spine, lower back, and abdominal organs.  

Usually, the Cat Pose movement is performed alternatively with Cow Pose or Bitilasana in a repeated cycle until the practitioner feels activation of the core and spine muscles. 

The repeated cycle is also known as Chakravakasana (Cat-Cow Pose). 

Bidalasana is a Sanskrit word that translates to 'Bidal,' which means Cat, and 'Asana,' which means Posture. Its alternate name Marjariasana translates to 'Marjari,' meaning Cat, and 'Asana,' meaning Posture. 

A very close cat posture formation was first described as the Tiger Pose, or Vyaghrasana, in the 17th-century Haṭha yoga text Haṭha Ratnāvalī by Srinivasa. 

Later, in the 19th-century book Sritattvanidhi, an asana named Marjarottanasana was described as the traditional cat pose. The significant difference was that it was an upside-down cat pose. 

Finally, the Bidalasana started gaining popularity in the early 20th century when Niels Bukh's Primary Gymnastics text described the cat pose as a Prone-Kneeling Position. 

Sanskrit Name: बिडालासन                  Pronunciation: bii-DHL-ah-snuh

Pose Type: Dynamic Stretch             Also known as:  Marjariasana or Cat Pose

Strengthens: Core, Shoulders, and Spine

Stretches: Spine, Tailbone, Traps, Lower Back, and Shoulders 

Health Benefits of Bidalasana 

  • Improves body posture. 

  • Enhances mobility in the tail bone.

  • Relieves lower back tension and pain. 

  • Strengthens the wrists and shoulders. 

  • Activates the Throat and Manipura Chakra. 

  • Strengthens the core, knee joints, and hip joints. 

  • Increases the flow of Prana (energy) in the body. 

  • Enhances strength, flexibility, and mobility in the spine. 

  • Engages core muscles to improve abdominal organ function. 

When to Avoid Performing Bidalasana 

  • Avoid if you have spondylitis. 

  • Avoid is you have a severe migraine. 

  • Avoid if you have inflammatory knee arthritis. 

  • Avoid you have wrist, knees, neck, shoulder, or spinal injuries. 

  • Avoid after wrist, knees, neck, shoulder, or spinal surgery. 

How to do Bidalasana (Cat Pose)

You can perform magic on your vertebrate with Cat pose by following the step-by-step practice below. 

Part 1: Preparation for Bidalasana 

The cat pose is known as a warm-up posture for all sorts of deep backbends and core balance postures. But if you’re a beginner, you may want to start your practice with the below muscle awakening movements for better blood circulation throughout your body.

1. Wrist Circles - Start drawing circles from your hands and wrist. Keep the movement clockwise at first for 10 to 20 rounds, then repeat the same in a counter-clockwise direction. 

Wrist Circles

This dynamic movement will activate your wrist joints by increasing their range of motion. After this, your hands will be able to bear your body weight for a prolonged duration in the cat stretch. 

2. Neck Circles - This warm-up will help release any tension in your neck muscles, plus it will help minimize any tightness in your traps. Simply start with your back and spine in a neutral position and move your neck clockwise. 

Neck Circles

First, bring your right ear close to your right shoulder, then gently bring your head forward, dropping your chin close to the chest. Finally, roll your head to the left shoulder and get back to neutral. Gently repeat these neck rolls for ten rounds, and then move your neck in a counter-clockwise direction. 

3. Ankle Circles - Stand close to a wall and keep your hands by your waist for this dynamic warm-up movement. Start making circles with your ankle joints and toes in a clockwise direction for 10 to 20 rounds. Repeat the same in a counter-clockwise direction as well. 

Ankle Circles

This movement will activate blood circulation in your legs and your ankle joints, increasing your range of motion, which prevents you from injury during the main practice. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Bidalasana 

The following are steps to practice Bidalasana: 

Step 1- Place your hands, knees, and the tops of your feet flat on the mat. 

Step 2- Align your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, your knees slightly behind your hips, and your index fingers pressed into the mat (as if you’re gripping the ground). 

Step 3- Keep your neck, spine, and shoulder aligned in a straight line and inhale deeply. 

Step 4- Now, perform an elongated exhale, press down through your hands and strengthen your arms, pushing the mat away from you and creating a strong convex curve in your spine. 

Step 5- Try to gaze at your navel while holding this pose for a few breaths.

Breath Awareness: 

  • Inhale - While holding the tabletop position with a neutral spine. 

  • Exhale - As you press your core tight and pull your upper back towards the ceiling. 

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold Bidalasana for 30 to 60 seconds.

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold Bidalasana for 1 to 3 minutes. 

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

Becoming more aware of your body posture is an essential aspect of performing any yoga asana. In order to keep you safe from injuries, make sure to follow these cues as you begin the cat stretch. 

  • Keep your core engaged - Loose muscles in your core area can cause injury around the tailbone. That’s why it’s better to hold your core tight and pull your navel close to your spine as you inhale. If you start to feel a gentle burning sensation in your abdomen after a few minutes, your core muscles are now activated. 

  • Be mindful - If you are not conscious of your breathing and movement, then you won’t be able to fully reap the benefits of Bidalasana practice. Cat pose demands an elevated connection between your breath and your movement. Be gentle with your movement and mindful as you breathe in the cat stretch. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Bidalasana 

After a long practice of the cat pose, it’s important to relax your back and upper body muscles.

The following are a few counter postures to relax your spine and return to its natural shape: 

1. Bitilasana (Cow Pose) - Continue the cat pose and flex your spine in the opposite direction as you inhale. In the cow stretch, your navel moves close to the ground, your gaze is upwards, and your tailbone is upright toward the ceiling. 

Bitilasana (Cow Pose)

Cow Pose is a counter posture for cat pose, and both of these postures are performed alternatively for a deeper activation of spine muscles in Chakravakasana. 

2. Balasana (Child's Pose) - Gently move your hips backward and sit onto your legs from the tabletop position. 

Balasana (Child's Pose)

Gently relax your shoulders, neck, and spine. Exhale and extend your upper body in front of you and rest your belly in between your thighs and your forehead on the floor. 

3. Uttana Shisosana (Extended Puppy Pose) - Continue this pose from Child’s Pose to find a deeper relaxation in your spinal column. To get into this pose, exhale deeply as you completely move your chest close to the mat. 

 Uttana Shisosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

Now, lift your glutes upright toward the ceiling and hold the pose here. This counter pose is extremely effective in relaxing your shoulders and tailbone area. 

Bidalasana Modifications and Props

Below you can find simple posture modifications you can use if Cat Pose feels challenging for you to perform. 

  • Cat Pose on forearms with yoga blocks- Bend your elbows and place your forearms on yoga blocks for minimized tension in your tailbone. 

This is a helpful modification for practitioners with lower back pain or those who can not hold the cat stretch for a long period with their arms straight. You can also perform this modification without yoga blocks. 

Cat Pose on forearms with yoga blocks

Bidalasana Variations to Consider

Below is a list of different Cat Pose variations you can try. 

1. Reverse Hand Grip: This variation can help you find a deeper flex in your shoulders, forearms, and wrists while performing the cat stretch. 

Just reverse your hands and point your fingers towards your knees as you get into the cat stretch. 

Reverse Hand Grip

2. Knee to Forehead Dynamic Movement: Start with getting into the cat stretch and lift one knee off the mat. Now, engage your core muscles and move your knee toward your forehead. After a slight hold, move your leg back. 

Knee to Forehead Dynamic Movement

Keep repeating this dynamic movement without completely resting your knee on the mat. After a minute, you will start to feel a gentle burn around your core. This is a perfect advanced variation for yogis who want to build stability and build strength in their core muscles. 

3. Hovering Cat Pose: Start with an inhale, and on your exhale get into the cat stretch pose as you contract your core muscles. Now, inhale and lift your knees off the mat as you maintain Cat Pose with a curved spine. 

 Hovering Cat Pose

You can hold this pose here for a few seconds or even gently hover in circles. The longer you can maintain this variation, the stronger your lower abs and shoulders will become. 

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Level-Up Poses After Bidalasana for Advanced Yogis

If you have performed Cat Pose and you’re looking to advance your routine, try some of these level-up postures. Each one is designed to help you build strength around your core, knees, shoulders, and spine. 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Balancing Table Pose

Level-Up Pose 2 - Vyaghrasana (Tiger Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Vyaghrasana Variation (Tiger Pose Raised Leg Variation)

Balancing Table Pose

Balancing Table Pose

Vyaghrasana (Tiger Pose)

Vyaghrasana (Tiger Pose)

Vyaghrasana Variation (Tiger Pose Raised Leg Variation)

Vyaghrasana Variation (Tiger Pose Raised Leg Variation)

Similar Spine Stretching Poses like Bidalasana

The following is a list of some stretching yoga asanas that your can perform to activate or awaken your spinal column, neck, shoulders, and wrists.

  1. Bitilasana (Cow Pose)

  2. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  3. Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx Pose)

  4. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

  5. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Frequently Asked Questions about Bidalasana (Cat Pose)

What are the benefits of Bidalasana?

Can beginners perform Bidalasana pose?

Who should not perform Bidalasana?

What are the different types of variation in Bidalasana?

Why is Bidalasana known as Cow pose?

Articles about Bidalasana (Cat Pose)
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