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Benefits of Marjariasana (Cat Pose Yoga) and How to Do it by Dr Ankit Sankhe

By Dr. Ankit Sankhe +2 more

Introduction: 

Nature inspired many rishis; visionaries, and they were aware of how animals stay healthy without any exercise. The postures performed by the animals are beneficial to them to stay strong and healthy. So that people might practice and benefit from them. There are many asanas inspired by animals, like Adhomukhsvanasana (Dog pose), Bhujangasana (snake pose), and Koormasana (Tortoise pose). Marjariasana is one such asana inspired by an animal. Current days, yoga has become popular all over the globe. Numerous fitness institutions use various yoga approaches and share knowledge with others. Let us discuss in detail marjariasana (cat asana) and its benefits.  

What is Marjariasana?  

Marjariasana is called cat pose, cat asana, or cat pose yoga. The word marjariasana is formed by joining the Sanskrit words marjari, meaning cat, and asana, meaning posture.3 

marjariasana

Marjariasana involves sitting on all fours (two hands and two legs) and stretching the back like a cat while synchronizing the breath with the spinal movements.2 

How to do it? 

The steps to do Marjariasana are as follows: 

  • Sit in the Vajrasana pose. Stand on your knees and raise your buttocks. 
  • Bend forward and your palms flat on the ground with the elbows straight and fingers facing forward. 
  • Your arms and thighs should now be at right angles to the floor and remain throughout the asana. 
  • Ensure that your hands and elbows are aligned with the shoulder while your knees are aligned with the hips. 
  • You may separate your knees slightly to get them in line with your hips. This is the starting posture. 
  • Now breathe in and raise your head, curving your back downwards simultaneously so that it develops a concavity. 
  • Puff up your abdomen and fill the air in your lungs with as much air as possible and hold for 3 to 5 seconds. 
  • Now breathe out fully while bending your head and curving your back upwards. 
  • When full exhalation is done, pull in your stomach and buttocks. In this pose, your head will be between your arms.  
  • Hold your breath for 3 seconds in this position, emphasizing the spinal arch and contracted stomach. 
  • This is one round of Marjariasana and can do for 5 to 10 rounds.2 

Do You Know? 

Some interesting facts related to Marjariasana are:  

  • The cat, from which marjariasana is inspired and developed this asana. It signifies one must also be aware of every moment and be alert. 
  • The active adjustments in this pose help the upper back in releasing pressure. Furthermore, this pose helps in activating the circulatory system and abdominal muscle.4 

Benefits of Marjariasana: 

Marjariasana may be helpful in many ways. Some of the potential benefits of this asana are: 

1. Benefits of Marjariasana for Primary Dysmenorrhoea 

Painful periods are a common problem in women in the childbearing age group. Primary dysmenorrhoea, also called menstrual cramps, leads to pain during menses without any obvious pathological cause. Regular practice of marjariasana may help to stretch and enhance the strength of the spine and the pelvic floor musculature.6 However, if you have painful periods, you must first consult a medical practitioner for treatment before trying this asana.  

2. Benefits of Marjariasana for Asthma  

Bronchial asthma is a lung inflammatory condition associated with emotional stress. In asthma, lung airways are narrow, which can make breathing difficult. Marjariasana may improve the airflow rate in the lungs, soothing the whole body, and may relax an asthma patient. 7 However, if you have bronchial asthma, it is best to consult your doctor before trying Marjariasana. Do not self-medicate or do not do this asana without a yoga trainer.  

3. Benefits of Marjariasana for the Low Back Pain 

The abdomen and back muscles support the spine. Back pain occurs when these muscles are not properly toned. Marjariasana may increase the strength of the muscles in the lower back. It may help increase the flexibility of the spinal cord and improve the blood flow to the lower back muscles. This enhances the flow of nutrients to the muscles. Marjariasana may also stimulate the sensory and motor nerves arising from the spine and improve the flow of Prana-the vital air said to flow through the body.7,8 However, if you have been suffering from low back pain for a long time, it is better to consult a medical practitioner before trying marjariasana. Do not self-medicate or do not do this asana without a yoga trainer.  

4. Benefits of Marjariasana for the Digestive system 

Marjariasana may help to tone the abdominal muscles and internal organs. It may also help in enhancing overall health by alleviating digestive issues. For example, a scientific study showed that marjariasana included as part of a yoga protocol for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), helped ease the symptom of diarrhoea seen in IBS.9,10 But if you have irritable bowel syndrome, you must not depend on marjariasana alone to help you. Instead, please consult your doctor to get treated for it appropriately. 

5. Other Benefits of Marjariasana 

  • It may help to overall tone up the structures in the female reproductive system.2,6 
  • It may increase neck and shoulder flexibility.7 
  • It may help reduce headaches as it may increase blood flow to the head, thus providing it with more nutrients. 
  • It may effectively control hearing loss by improving the balance and coordination of the body. 
  • It may reduce obesity in women. 
  • It may help increase digestive functions, thereby reducing physiological stimuli and bringing about relaxation.11 

One must not depend on Marjariasana as a mode of treatment for any disease condition. If you are suffering from any health issues, you should consult your doctor, who will examine and treat you appropriately. Moreover, it would help if you learned Marjariasana or any other yoga asana under a trained Yoga guru to avoid the risk of injuries. Do not go for any self-medication for any kind of disease and do not practice yoga without a yoga trainer. 

Researchers have found that regular practice of Marjariasana may help revitalise the mind and may aid in overcoming fatigue. In my experience, the posture of Marjariasana gives your back the full range of motion it requires by combining forward bends and back arches. The cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines become mobile as a result, may release all the tension that had been held there.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Risks of Exercise 

Some contraindications related to Marjariasana are: 

  • Pregnant women beyond 26 weeks must not practice this asana.12 
  • While no other major contraindications are known, it is advisable to practice this asana under the guidance of a yoga teacher. 

Some precautions related to marjariasana are: 

  • Though marjariasana may be a safe asana to practice, it is recommended that pregnant women should learn and practice this asana under a yoga teacher. 

A Yoga expert who can identify the risk factors for you and advise the appropriate way to practice marjariasana with precautions.  

Researchers have found that the female reproductive system and pelvic muscles may be toned extremely well by performing Marjariasana (Cat Stretch Pose) in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. This pose may improve the flexibility of the neck, spine, and shoulder muscles, that are necessary for the pushing motion during delivery.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Conclusion  

Marjariasana, or cat pose, is a complete asana that helps stretch the spine fully. It also has many benefits for digestion, increases hearing, and may reduce breathing problems. In addition, it is of great use to women for various issues relating to the female reproductive system. One may practice marjariasana regularly under the guidance of a yoga expert to avoid any injuries.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

1) What is the marjariasana yoga pose (Cat Pose)? 

The name marjariasana is taken from the Sanskrit ‘Marjari’, which means ‘cat’, and ‘Asana’ means ‘posture’. The final posture resembles that of a cat. 

2) Can Marjariasana be used for low back pain?

Marjariasana may be helpful to those suffering from low back pain for a long time.  This asana may increase the flexibility of the spinal cord and improve the blood flow to the lower back muscles. Thus, enhancing the flow of nutrients to the muscles and toxins to the outside. It may also improve the strength of the lower back muscles.8 However, it is advisable to consult your doctor before trying marjariasana for low back pain. 

3) How many times should one do Marjariasana? 

Marjariasana may be done 5-10 times at a time.2 But, it is advised to practice under the guidance of a trained and experienced yoga teacher and follow his advice for the same number of repetitions and duration. 

4) Is Marjariasana benefits for migraine headaches? 

Marjariasana is believed to be good for headaches. In general, it may help increase blood circulation to the head region, provide more nutrients, and reduce pain.11 But if you are suffering from migraine headaches, it is recommended that you reach out to a medical practitioner first before trying Marjariasana. 

5) Can Marjariasana be done during pregnancy? 

Marjariasana may be safely practised in the early stages of pregnancy as it may help improve digestion and circulation of blood throughout the body. It also strengthens the shoulder and relaxes the body. However, one must not contract the abdomen forcefully. Women pregnant beyond 26 weeks must not practice this asana.2,12 

References: 

  1. Shetty R, Akshay N, Deepu V, Jayan V, Sreeram K, R. Bhavani R. Yogic Circuits: Making Tangible Embodied Learning Environments with Soft Circuits and Yoga. FabLearn Asia 2020 [Internet]. 2020Jan; Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Akshay-Nagarajan/publication/342154817_Yogic_Circuits_Making_Tangible_Embodied_Learning_Environments_with_Soft_Circuits_and_Yoga/links/5ee560f2a6fdcc73be7b77db/Yogic-Circuits-Making-Tangible-Embodied-Learning-Environments-with-Soft-Circuits-and-Yoga.pdf 
  1. Saraswati S. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha [Internet]. Ia804508.us.archive.org. 2022 [cited 5 November 2022].Available from : https://ia804508.us.archive.org/31/items/aaa_20210704/aaa.pdf 
  1. Www.wisdomlib.org. Marjari [Internet]. Wisdom Library; The portal for Hinduism, Sanskrit, Buddhism, Jainism, Mesopotamia etc… 2021 [cited 2022Nov5]. Available from: https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/marjari#sanskrit 
  1. Weiche DI. Animals in Yoga- Philosophy and Postures [Internet]. [cited 2022Nov5]. Available from: https://www.animalia-asana.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Iris-Yoga-in-Animals8-ilovepdf-compressed.pdf 
  1. Kandari LS, Bisht VK, Bhardwaj M, Thakur AK. Conservation and management of Sacred Groves, myths and beliefs of tribal communities: A case study from North-India. Environmental Systems Research [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2022Nov5];3(1). Available from: https://web.archive.org/web/20170812025655id_/https://environmentalsystemsresearch.springeropen.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s40068-014-0016-8?site=environmentalsystemsresearch.springeropen.com 
  1. Sudhakar S, S VK, Padmanabhan K, Aravind S, Praveen Kumar CR, Monika S. Efficacy of yoga asana and gym ball exercises in the management of primary dysmenorrhea: A single-blind, two group, pretest-posttest, randomized controlled trial. CHRISMED Journal of Health and Research [Internet]. 2018;5(2):118. Available from: https://www.cjhr.org/article.asp?issn=2348-3334;year=2018;volume=5;issue=2;spage=118;epage=122;aulast=S 
  1. Prajapati sarita, Varma rakesh, Dutta amal k. Management of psycho-physiological aspect of bronchial asthma through yogic intervention. Dev sanskriti interdisciplinary international journal [internet]. 2019;3:42–8. Available from: http://dsiij.dsvv.ac.in/index.php/dsiij/article/view/36/33 
  1. Narayan Joshi L. Effect of selected yoga asana on quality of life of clbp patients. European Journal of Physical Education and Sport Science [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022Nov5];3(1). Available from: https://www.oapub.org/edu/index.php/ejep/article/view/567/1571 
  1. K R, M A. Yoga for palliative care nurses. Annals of SBV [Internet]. 2016;5(2):23–7. Available from: https://web.archive.org/web/20220225134627id_/https://aos.sbvjournals.com/doi/pdf/10.5005/jp-journals-10085-5207 
  1. Tavassoli S. Yoga in the management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. International Journal of Yoga Therapy [Internet]. 2009;19(1):97–101. Available from: https://web.archive.org/web/20200321153739id_/http://www.yogaclub.us/attachments/Other%20Diseases%20Disorders/Yoga%20and%20IBS.pdf 
  1. sharma B, Pant K, Pant B, Sharma P, Thapliyal M, Sinha S, et al. Electronic detoxification with yoga and meditation. Journal of Critical reviews [Internet]. 2020;7(12). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Somya-Sinha-3/publication/351618249_ELECTRONIC_DETOXIFICATION_WITH_YOGA_AND_MEDITATION/links/60a14f7892851cfdf33b2f30/ELECTRONIC-DETOXIFICATION-WITH-YOGA-AND-MEDITATION.pdf 
  1. Sujaniski T. Midwifery biological promoters through yogic postural exercises and relative benefits. International journal of behavioral social and movement sciences [Internet]. 2018;8(2). Available from: https://ijobsms.org/index.php/ijobsms/article/view/377/307 

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