Imagine a river flowing downstream. The water passes smoothly over and around the rocks in its path and mixes with the sand on the shores. It does not stop to question its path, it merely continues to flow.
Have you ever wondered how you may be able to find more flow in your life?
This is what vinyasa yoga is all about. When you can practice flow on your yoga mat, more flow will manifest in your life. Those challenges that pop up like giant boulders along your path are merely opportunities for you to create beautiful waterfalls when you live in the flow.
One of the best ways to begin finding flow in your yoga practice is through the exercise called Cat-Cow. It is a movement practice that incorporates the breath. The breath is also an essential link in finding flow in your yoga practice. In fact, vinyasa is often translated to mean “moving with the breath.” We could all breathe a little more in our daily lives, too.
Cat-Cow is typically down at the beginning of a yoga practice because it is a great way to warm up the spine. It also helps connect the body to the energetic currents of the breath.
First, you start with cat pose. Begin in a tabletop position with the hands under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Lengthen the crown of the head and the tailbone in opposite directions, parallel to the floor. The starting position is neutral.
On an exhale, begin to round the back into a C-curve. Tuck the chin to the chest and curl the tailbone under so that the entire spine presses upward. It should look like how a cat stretches after a nap. The shoulder blades will separate for a nice stretch. Hug the navel upward for core activation and squeeze all the air out of your lungs.
Next, let's move onto cow pose. On an inhale, reverse the curve of the spine into a U-shape. Drop the belly and arch the back so that the eyes and tailbone point toward the sky. Kiss the shoulder blades inward and still keep the core active by drawing the navel in for lower back protection. Sip in as much breath as you can.
Now Let's Flow!
As you may be able to tell, the cat pose connects you to the downward current of the breath, which is very grounding, and cow pose connects you to the upward current of the breath, which is uplifting. The beautiful thing about this exercise is the ease with which you can now move between the two through your flow.
To make it continuous, simply move from cat as you exhale into cow as you inhale. You can try it at different speeds depending on the length of your breath to see what works best for you. You will also find the pace will change over time depending on your own mood or energy, as every day is, of course, different!