Fig. 13.4a: Seated Cat Stretch—Flat Back
In Seated Cat Stretch, you alternately strengthen and stretch your abdominal muscles. To perform this yoga posture, sit on the floor on a comfortable, padded surface with your legs bent and the soles of your feet planted on the floor in front of you. The legs are bent at the knees and the legs form an upside-down V relative to the floor. Your feet should be a comfortable distance in front of the buttocks, parallel to one another and slightly wider apart than the hips.
Place each hand on the back surface of the corresponding thigh just above the knee crease. As you inhale, expand and open your chest as you flatten and arch the back forward to bring the upper body close toward the thighs—your abdomen fills up with air (see Fig. 13.4a).
As you exhale, contract the abdominal muscles as you round the upper body backward. Compress the abdominal muscles and navel area, in particular, back in toward the spine (see Fig. 13.4b).
Inhale and arch forward again. Exhale and round your back. Continue this Seated Cat Stretch for several rounds of natural, rhythmic breathing. As you exhale, feel how your abdominal muscles are being flattened, compressed, and firmed. As you inhale, feel how they are being stretched and your lower back is being strengthened.
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