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Our spine is the live-wire that connect everything in our body. We make a lot of demands on it — including in yoga class.

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Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

Sometimes students, even regular practitioners, push to hard in poses and can risk aggravating the spine. To avoid the possibility of stress or injury, it is incredibly important to listen to your body. Yoga is about creating a healthy balance, not forcing your body into postures that might actually do you harm.

The other thing you can do to protect your spine is regularly practice two easy spine stretching yoga poses: Cat (Marjaryasana) and Cow (Bitilasana).

These are gentle stretches you can do any time, as part of a class or on their own. They wake up the spine, massage the organs, activate the breath, and centre the body.

Marjaryasana (Cat pose)

  • Start on all fours: hands beneath the shoulders, knees below hips.
  • Breathe in and arch the back.
  • Tuck your stomach and tailbone, sucking your belly button in toward the spine.
  • Relax your neck to let your head hang loose.
  • Move directly into Cow pose.

Bitilasana (Cow pose)

  • On the exhale drop the belly, arching the back so your tailbone lifts up.
  • Raise your head and open your shoulders.
  • Press your chest forward to increase the stretch.
  • Repeat, alternating between Cat and Cow between 10 or 15 times.

Cat and Cow is a great warm-up for a vinyasa flow session.

Read more: 4 Yoga Poses for the Sacrum, 3 Spine Healing Yoga Poses