Wellness: Relaxes spine; improves breathing

February 18, 2015 04:15 pm | Updated 04:15 pm IST



This is about a 62-year-old lady, a patient of chronic airflow limitation with progressive kyphoscoliosis (forward bending of spine), who was subjected to Bidalasana – Cat Pose Breathing.

The Cat Pose loosens your back and spine. It also stretches the front and back of your body and frees your neck and shoulders. Doing the Cat Tilt elongates your back muscles and makes your abdominal muscles contract. Doing the Cat Pose benefits your health by stimulating spinal fluid and the digestive tract, and by improving circulation through the spine and core. It is also beneficial in managing stress.

You breathe from lower brain called brain stem and breathe best when your spine, pelvis and diaphragm are in coordination with each other. A good spine posture with right breathing technique augments lung ventilation. If you nurture your spine and do regular spinal breathing it would expand lungs and improve ventilation. There are two types of breathing movement of rib cage.

The pump handle and bucket handle movement .

The pump handle movement increases the forward expansion of chest cage or horizontal expansion and bucket handle movement elongates the lung or expands the lung vertically. These movements involve simultaneous movement of intercostals cartilage, diaphragm and spine, clavicle, shoulder and pelvic movement.

A good breathing involves symmetrical expansion of chest both forwardly and vertically so that there is minimum dead space ventilation or wasted ventilation.

Bidaasana or cat pose breathing

Bidalasana – Cat Pose Breathing improves breathing and takes care of spine. Spine is the most important part of the human system. It is a pillar which allows respiratory system to function synchronously and effectively for optimum ventilation and wellness.

Benefits of this breathing are that it gently stretches lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankle. Relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck. Massages your internal organs and calms the mind.  

Step 1:  Start on your hands and knees. Position your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath the hips. Have your fingers fully spread with the middle fingers pointing straight ahead. Make your back horizontal and flat. Gaze at the floor. This is your “neutral” positioning. When your pelvis is in neutral, your spine will be at full extension, with both the front and back

Step 2:  As you wait for the inner cue, do not sag into your shoulders. Instead, create a line of energy through each arm by pressing downward into your hands and lifting upward out of your shoulders. Go back and forth like this several times to make sure you understand the movement. As you exhale, sag into your shoulders and do the incorrect action; as you inhale, lengthen the arms, lift out of the shoulders and do the correct action. 

Step 3: When you are ready to begin, breathe in deeply. As you exhale, turn your hips into Cat Tilt. Do this by gently pulling the abdominal muscles backward toward the spine, tucking the tailbone (coccyx) down and under, and gently contracting the buttocks. Press firmly downward with your hands in order to stay lifted out of the shoulders, and press the middle of your back toward the ceiling, rounding your spine upward. Curl your head inward. Gaze at the floor between your knees. 

Cat pose breathing significantly improved this patient’s kyphoscoliosis and significantly improved breathing parameters as well as wellness.

(The writer is founder, SAANS Foundation)

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