If you have spent any time around cats, you have likely noticed a few things such as their amazing flexibility, their speed and agility, their intense napping schedule, and the fact that they are straight-up adorable- I digress. One of our favourite stretches is the cat stretch.
We know there is something special about the way our feline friends move. Many of us have adopted cat-like moves into our own stretching routines. Almost every stretcher has experienced the cat pose – a mainstay of most yoga classes and stretching routines.
Getting into the cat stretch
When this pose is performed, it imitates the arched back of a cat waking from a good nap. The great news is that we can perform this stretch anywhere, anytime, and experience all the benefits our feline friends do!
If you want a solid cat stretch, get onto your hands and knees. Gently push your chest to the floor and raise your head up towards the ceiling. To balance out, you can do the opposite cow stretch, where you round your back as high as it can go and tuck your chin to your chest. Repeat these cat and cow poses a few times for the best stretch!
Stretching after sleeping- just like a cat!
Cats would be clear contenders in the sleep Olympics if there were such a thing. Clocking in between 12 and 16 hours of sleep per day, cats double the sleep most of their human counterparts get.
When we sleep, our brain paralyzes most of our muscles so that we do not act out our dreams – such as (but not limited to) flying, performing fire baton routines, intense karate, and so on. Looking to improve the quality of your sleep? Check out our blog on the importance of sleep!
Cats are no different, this temporary paralysis is what prevents cats from chasing a bird off the end of the couch as they snooze. Deep relaxation happens during sleep, lowering the body’s blood pressure. Stay tuned though, because as cats wake, the stretching magic begins.
Cats stretch regularly to be able to move freely. Why do you?
For cats to be prepared to pounce, sprint, jump and tap into their amazing agility, they begin the process of moving and stretching their bodies. While we don’t chase mice or pounce, we do need to restore our blood pressure to its pre-sleep state. This increased blood flow to our muscles and brain helps wake us up and makes us more alert.
A good stretch helps us wake up.
Cats instinctively recover from sleep by stretching. These big stretches are not only adorable, but they also prepare the cat’s body for activity, lengthening the muscles to their normally agile state. As the cats get their tight muscles moving, toxins such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide, which accumulate during inactivity, are flushed out through increased blood and lymph circulation.
After a good stretching session, the kitty is ready to take on the day…or at least a few minutes before the next nap. These stretches prime both a cat’s body and our own. Stretching in the morning sets us up to be alert, alleviates discomfort in our muscles, and gets our blood pumping oxygen and nutrients. Experts claim morning to be the perfect time to stretch, however, stretching throughout the day can provide fantastic mind/body benefits – great news for cat nappers!
The benefits of stretching include a healthy immune system, improved flexibility, stabilized mindset, and a feeling refreshed. This should inspire us to follow in the paw prints of our furry friends and make stretching a part of our day.
Updated June 22, 2021