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How to Do the Yoga-with-Weights Cow to Cat Exercise

The Cow to Cat (call it the Curl and Crunch if you like) yoga-with-weights exercise works your abdominal muscles much like a stomach crunch; it’s soothing to your neck and back; it stretches and strengthens your spine; and it works your legs and buttocks.

Why the unusual name? Because in the first part of the exercise, you stretch your chest and make it look like the big, broad face of a cow. In the second part, when you round your back, you look like a Halloween cat.

Wear your ankle weights for this exercise. When you’re ready, follow these steps:

  1. Start on all fours with your knees directly under your hips and your wrists directly under your shoulders.

    Make sure your fingers are spread wide for support and balance. You look like a table in this position.

  2. Inhaling to a count of four, lower your belly down as you move your back one vertebra at a time into a full stretch with your chin up.

    This is the cow position. Keep your hips parallel during this step (and throughout this exercise).

  3. Exhaling to a count of four, round your back and tuck in your chin as you lift your right knee toward your chest.

    This, the cat position, is the starting position. Look down into your navel or at your knee.

    Move your tailbone down and pull your belly in and up as you do this portion of the exercise.

  4. Inhaling to a count of four, lift your right leg directly behind you as you raise your chin.

    Spread your toes wide, and lift your leg to hip level. Imagine that you’re pressing your foot into a wall. Don’t kick or swing your leg; move it slowly to work the muscles of your buttocks. Keep your toes pointed toward the ground if you can.

    Feel your back arch as you do this part of the exercise.

  5. Exhaling to a count of four, return to the starting position.

    Be careful not to drop your head; lower it slowly into your chest. Concentrate on your lungs emptying and your belly squeezing as you exhale.

The stretching and contracting of your abdominal muscles helps you tone and shape them.

Repeat this exercise six to eight times with each leg, take a rest, and then do six to eight more repetitions with each leg.

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