Yoga For Back Pain Relief: Cat-Cow Pose

Cat-Cow Pose is one of the most basic yet effective poses that you can practice when using yoga for back pain relief. When combined with the flow of your breath, Cat-Cow Pose is one of the best ways to lengthen and stretch your spine and neck.

As you move through Cat-Cow Pose you will actually feel the tension in your back release and experience immediate back pain relief.

What Is Cat-Cow Pose?

Cat-Cow Pose is a combination of two yoga asanas, or movements, typically found when practicing vinyasa yoga. Since vinyasa yoga utilizes breath-to-movement, as you move into Cat Pose, or Marjaryasana, you will exhale your breath and then inhale your breath as you move through to Cow Pose, or Bitilasana.

Cultivating a long, slow breath while moving through Cat-Cow Pose will allow you to really deepen the stretch in your spine instantly relieve tension in your back.

How To Perform Cat-Cow Pose

Cat Pose
Cat Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Pose
  • Start on the ground with a neutral spine in table-top position with your knees and hands on the floor.
  • Your knees should be hip distance apart in line with your hips and your arms should be straightened and in line with your shoulders.
  • Keep your head in line with your body and either close your eyes or gaze towards the ground.
  • Take an inhale while in this neutral spine position and then slowly exhale your breath while rounding your spine towards the sky, keeping your hands and knees where they are.
  • As you round your spine you will gently release your head towards the ground while making sure not to tense your neck.
  • Engage your lower core muscles and really try to bring your tailbone towards the center of your body while rounding your back as high as you can.
  • Once you have released your entire breath in Cat Pose start to inhale deeply while dropping your belly towards the ground.
  • Begin to arch your back and lift your chest towards the sky keeping your neck in line with your spine. Release your lower belly to the ground while actively lifting your tailbone to the sky.
  • After a full inhale while in Cow Pose, start to slowly exhale your breath and move through to Cat Pose once again.
  • Continue through the Cat-Cow sequence as many times as you need, maintaining a slow and steady breath the entire time.

Benefits of Cat-Cow Pose

  • Strengthens the spine and neck
  • Stretches hips, back, neck, and shoulders
  • Provides a massage for your internal organs
  • Calms the mind through steady yoga breathing
  • Realigns your body
  • Improves coordination and balance

Using Yoga For Back Pain Relief

Yoga For Back Pain
Yoga for back pain relief.

Cat-Cow Pose is a great tool that can be used on its own to relieve back pain but if you’re looking for long-term relief from chronic pain then I would recommend starting a total-body yoga routine. In my opinion starting a complete yoga routine is the best and fastest way that you can get lasting relief from chronic back pain.

I’ve personally struggled with chronic low back pain for over half of my life and after only a few months of regular yoga practice I started to find the relief that I had always been looking for. Cat-Cow Pose is one of my favorite poses that I practice that helps with my back pain and I still incorporate it into my practice today. It is amazing how much instant relief this pose can provide in such a simple set of movements.

The amazing relief that you get from even the most simplest of poses like Cat-Cow is just a taste of what a consistent yoga practice can provide for your body and your back pain. Yoga does not guarantee a quick fix to your pain but offers a practice that will start to repair your body from the inside out for the rest of your life.

What is your favorite yoga pose for back pain?

Stick With It!



  1. Mara

    This was a great eye-opener for me, as I hadn’t realized you can help back pain with yoga. Do you have any advice for yoga to help chronic neck pain? I have tried umpteen different pillow types and still have a lot of stiffness, which often leads to headaches. Just another comment on your article – I really like the way you have explained exactly how to perform the movement. I’ve been looking through a few gym sites recently and many don’t explain the “how to” very well. I often think if someone tried something without the full picture they are more likely to do themselves an injury. Anyway, I’m going to give the cat-cow pose a go!

    1. yoga (Post author)

      Hi Mara!
      Yoga is actually great for helping with chronic neck pain! Poses like Cat-Cow are great for the neck because it focuses on relaxing and stretching the neck which is great for relieving tension in the neck. But what I’ve found with my back pain is that not just one pose is going to cure the pain but when combined with a consistent yoga routine the pain was eventually worked out of my body because of all the twists and other exercises that are included. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Bill

    Hi. Good to visit with you again. I enjoyed the read on back pain. Not a problem for me at the moment but I’m really interested in taking up yoga. I’ve lifted weights for a few years and think adding something like yoga to my fitness routine would offer lots of benefits, Thanks for the info and keep up the good work.

    1. yoga (Post author)

      Hi Bill!
      I know a lot of people that mainly lift weights that also come to yoga class because the flexibility and balance they learn in yoga can directly be applied to their lifting sessions. I really believe you would see an increase in your lifts if you added a yoga practice. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Sher F Cappa

    After having both knees replaced, my wide hips became much narrower because my knock knees are now straight. I have practiced yoga for 35 years and have NEVER had the joy of long term lower back pain until now. I am finding my way but realize that at 75 I might have to deal with this for the rest of my glorious years. I enjoyed your article and have been doing all you are talking about and it really helps. My biggest thing is keeping a flat back – really hard to do when you are used to just “falling” into a forward bend with enthusiasm. Do you have any other secrets? I now bend my knees whenever I feel the slightest twinge- with no guilt. Thanks – Sher


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