54
THE ASANAS
Seated
This is a gentle kneeling pose that takes the position
of a scared cat, warming up joints in your spine, hips,
and shoulders. Try exhaling as you move into the pose.
This is often done with the next pose, Cow, by owing
from Cat to Cow with the exhale and inhale.
THE BIG PICTURE
Your back muscles stretch while the muscles on the front
of your body—including your chest and abdominal muscles—
engage. Muscles in your arms work to stabilize you. Your rib cage
is compressed, helping to facilitate a deep exhale into the pose.
CAT
Marjaryasana
Even curve
in spine
Fingers spread
and palms
pressing down
Knees hip-
distance apart
Hands
shoulder-
distance
apart
Shoulder blades
are wide apart
ALIGNMENT
Your arms and thighs are
fixed in place, with your knees
directly under your hips and
hands under your shoulders
(or slightly forward). The
rounding of your spine is
as even as possible.
Lower torso
Your lumbar spine is in exion, stretching your
quadratus lumborum. Your abdominals
engage to compress your abdomen,
squeezing your belly button in toward your
spine. Your pelvis is in a posterior pelvic tilt.
Internal obliques
Rectus abdominis
Iliopsoas
Hip
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55
Neck
Your cervical exors
sternocleidomastoid, longus
colli, and longus capitis
engage. Your cervical
extensorsupper trapezius,
splenius capitis, and splenius
cervicis—stretch as you ex
your cervical spine, tucking your
chin in toward your sternum.
Upper arms
Your triceps brachii
extend your elbows,
while your biceps
brachii stabilize
synergistically in a
lengthened position.
Lower arms
Your wrist extensors
extend your wrists, and
your wrist exors slightly
stretch while stabilizing your
hands in position.
Upper torso
The muscles on the front of your
body engage to ex your spine
including your abdominals and
iliopsoas, while the muscles on
the back of your body stretch—
including your spinal extensors,
trapezius, rhomboids, and
latissimus dorsi. Your scapulae
are elevated, protracted, and
upwardly rotated. Your pectoralis
major is slightly engaged.
Lower legs
Your lower legs are
relaxed. You may feel
your ankle dorsiexors
stretching if they are
particularly tight.
Triceps brachii
Pectoralis major
Shoulder
Elbow
Palmaris longus
Wrist
Extensor carpi radialis longus
Extensor carpi radialis brevis
Flexor carpi ulnaris
Extensor carpi ulnaris
Flexor digitorum superficialis
Splenius muscles
Serratus anterior
Erector spinae
Trapezius
Spine
Longus muscles
Sternocleidomastoid
KEY
Joints
Muscles
Engaging
Engaging while
stretching
Stretching
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