Awakening deep intrinsic primal and developmental movement patterns, the moving cat stretch is one of my all time favourite movement patterns. It can be done any time of the day, all you need is a little bit of floor space and the ability to get up and down from it!
First thing in the morning it acts like a big yawn to help gently wake you up, centre and focus you for the day ahead; in the middle of the day it re-energises and better directs your attention – a much healthier pick me up than reaching for the chocolate or caffeine hit; and done slowly before bed it helps to unwind and cleanse the day from your body and mind so you can go off to bed free from any unwanted mental or physical baggage.
Here are just some of the benefits:
- stretches, strengthens and stabilises your arms, spine and torso
- moves the breath deeper into your lungs helping to cleanse and better oxygenate all the tissues throughout your body
- massages and opens the deep lower back and hips which in turn flushes the digestive system with fresh nutrient dense blood – great digestive aid!
- strengthens and connects the deep abdominal muscles helping stabilise the torso and flood your system with all your feel good hormones! (dopamine and serotonin are largely manufactured in the gut)
- opens the nerves through the spine, hands and arms helping to undo tension caused from slouching over a computer, smart phone or steering wheel, or constantly lugging kiddies around!
- massages and opens the kidneys and resets the adrenal glands, helping you swap stressy fight or flight mode to calm cruise control – read more here
- SO..helps relieve headaches, RSI, back pain, digestive troubles, anxiety, fatigue, disordered breathing…to name a few!
1) BEGIN ON ALL FOURS
Knees under hips, hands under shoulders
- Keep the spine long and spacious. Imagine your spine being pulled from either end – out through the crown of the head and out through the tail bone
- To help get the arm bones connecting well into the shoulder sockets and the shoulder blades well placed, bend your arms and point the elbows out to the sides then turn the arms so the elbows point in towards your body, straighten the arms.
- Keep shoulder blades wide on the back of your rib cage and press the floor away from you, ie. don’t hang the torso down between your arms and collapse the shoulder blades together
- Make sure head isn’t dropped – keep the back of the neck long just as it would be if you were standing
Inhale to prepare. Exhale to draw the belly in towards your spine and gently articulate the spine into a curved cat shape. Inhale to pause…
- Your pubic bone should be looking at you and you should be looking at your pubic bone
- Gently press through your hands to help widen the middle back
- Gently use your lower abs to help pull your tail between your legs and lengthen the lower back. Imagine plugging your tail into your belly button
- Keep the hands and fingers alive! spread them wide and feel equal weight through each finger
Exhale to travel the cat curve backwards so you sit back on the heels, keeping your hands connected to the same spot on the floor. Inhale to pause…
- Relax your neck, jaw, throat and eyes as you release back into the stretch
- Let your ankles roll out to the sides if the top of the feet or inner thighs are tight
- Keep gently hugging the belly back in towards the spine
4) EXTENSION & STABILISATION
Exhale to bend your arms, place the forearms on the floor, roll your shoulders back, lift your head, chest and spine into a lengthened position. Inhale to pause…
Exhale to travel your spine forward stopping when your head gets to your wrists. Inhale to pause…
- Arms are parallel to each other, elbows draw towards each other so you can feel a little squeeze at your arm pits
- Connect the abs by drawing the belly inward and upward
- Keep your eyes towards the floor – this doesn’t mean dropping the head though!
- Draw your breast bone forward to the wall in front of you and draw your shoulders and elbows backwards towards your knees
- Your spine is parallel to the floor – not on a diagonal diving towards the floor
Exhale to press the hands into the floor and stretch the arms back up to the beginning position. Repeat another 5 times beginning with your hands slightly more forward each time.
- Keep your elbows towards each other to help connect the back of your arms and sides of the spine
- Keep your knees over your hips – when you press up don’t avoid the hard work by moving your butt backwards!
- Keep your abs drawing inward and upward
- Spine stays long and connected like in plank position