Many yoga poses take inspiration from the different elements of nature, be they animals birds, reptiles or even trees, mountains, etc. The Cow pose is one such pose that takes inspiration from the way cows stretch their backs by raising their heads and curving the back downwards. The cow pose is normally a part of the cat-cow sequence where the practitioner moves her (his) back up and down in alternate movements. This pose is quite useful in giving exercise to the back and getting relief from back pain.
You start doing this pose from a kneeling position with your heels resting on your buttocks and inner thighs resting on your calf muscles. Bend forward and place your palms on the floor to come on all fours. Ensure that your palms are above your elbows and elbows are right above your shoulders. Also ensure that your spine is straight and head and neck are aligned. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, curve your back upwards. Draw your abdominal muscles inwards and push your back upwards.
When you do this, also lower your head between your arms, in a move similar to the down dog pose. With your head in this position, there is greater flow of blood to your face and brain. Keep breathing slowly and consciously in this position and pause at this position for between three to five breaths. Now soften your spine and curve it downwards. When you do this simultaneously raise your head and curve your neck. Your belly button is the lowest point in your torso. Tilt your pelvis all the way back and pause at this position too for between three to five breaths. You can gradually increase the duration for which you stay in each position over a period of the next few days and weeks.
This pose gives good exercise to your spine. For those who cannot be on all fours, there is a chair-based adaption of this exercise, which you can do sitting on a chair and curve your back, backwards and forward. When you curve your back forward, you can also push your head backwards, thrust your chest out and look up. When you curve your back backwards, you may lower your head. When doing this movement from a seated position, you may place your palms on your knees and tug at your knees when you bend your back forwards and push against your knees when you bend your back backwards.
Yoga Cow Pose for the Lower Back