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Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Cow Pose, known as Bitilasana in Sanskrit, is a fundamental posture in yoga that offers a gentle yet effective way to warm up and stretch the spine. It is often paired with Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) to create a dynamic flow that enhances flexibility, balance, and relaxation. Let's dive into the details of Cow Pose, uncovering its meaning, benefits, and how to practice it with intention and joy.

Cow Pose

Cow Pose is a simple yet powerful yoga posture that involves arching the spine and opening the chest while on all fours. This pose is typically performed in conjunction with Cat Pose, creating a fluid movement that stretches and strengthens the back and abdominal muscles. It’s a great way to start or end your yoga practice, providing a gentle way to mobilize the spine and release tension.

The term "Bitilasana" comes from two Sanskrit words: "Bitila," meaning cow, and "Asana," meaning pose or posture. The pose mimics the stance of a cow, with its back arched and belly dropped, symbolizing grounding and connection to the earth.

The pronunciation of Bitilasana is "bee-tee-LAH-suh-nuh." Breaking it down:

  • "Bi" sounds like "bee"

  • "Ti" sounds like "tee"

  • "La" sounds like "lah"

  • "Asana" sounds like "aa-suh-nuh"

Anatomy of Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Cow Pose primarily targets the following areas:

  • Spine: Extends and mobilizes the entire length of the spine.

  • Chest and Shoulders: Opens the chest and stretches the shoulder muscles.

  • Abdomen: Stretches the abdominal muscles, aiding digestion.

  • Neck: Gently stretch the neck and throat.

  • Hips: Provides a mild stretch to the hip flexors.

Cow Pose (Bitilasana): Steps and Instructions

  1. Start on All Fours: Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Ensure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips.

  2. Inhale and Arch: On an inhalation, drop your belly towards the mat, lift your sitting bones and chest upwards, and gaze slightly upward.

  3. Engage Your Arms: Press your hands firmly into the mat, spreading your fingers wide.

  4. Relax Your Shoulders: Draw your shoulders away from your ears to create space in your neck.

  5. Hold and Breathe: Hold the pose for a few deep breaths, maintaining a gentle arch in your back.

  6. Transition to Cat Pose: On an exhalation, flow into Cat Pose by rounding your spine towards the ceiling and tucking your chin to your chest.

Cow Pose

When to Do It

Cow Pose can be practiced at any time during your yoga session. It’s especially beneficial as part of a warm-up sequence at the beginning of your practice or as a cool-down at the end. It’s also excellent for relieving tension during breaks in a long day of sitting or working.

Preparatory Poses

Before practicing Cow Pose, warm up with these poses:

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): To gently stretch the back and relax.

  • Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): To lengthen the spine and warm up the shoulders.

  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): To stretch the back and hamstrings.

Follow Up Poses

After Cow Pose, consider transitioning into these poses:

  • Cat Pose (Marjaryasana): To complement the backbend with a forward bend.

  • Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana): To stretch the shoulders and upper back.

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): To relax and stretch the spine.


Cow Pose is primarily associated with the Anahata (Heart) Chakra. Located in the center of the chest, this chakra is connected to love, compassion, and emotional balance. Practicing Bitilasana can help to open and balance the Heart Chakra, promoting feelings of openness and emotional well-being.

Heart Chakra

Mantra for This Pose

A soothing mantra to accompany Cow Pose is "Yam," the bija (seed) mantra for the Heart Chakra. Chanting this mantra can enhance the heart-opening benefits of the pose, fostering a sense of love and compassion.


Alignment Cues

  • Hands and Knees Alignment: Ensure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips.

  • Engage the Core: Gently engage your abdominal muscles to support your lower back.

  • Shoulders Away from Ears: Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears to avoid tension in the neck.

  • Gaze Upward: Lift your gaze slightly upward to enhance the arch in your back.

  • Even Weight Distribution: Distribute your weight evenly between your hands and knees.

Duration of Hold

Hold Cow Pose for 3-5 breaths, moving smoothly into Cat Pose on each exhalation to create a dynamic flow. Repeat the Cat-Cow sequence for about 1-2 minutes or as desired.

Drishti (Gaze)

In Cow Pose, your drishti, or gaze, should be slightly upward. Focus on a point where the ceiling meets the wall to maintain a gentle arch in your neck and avoid compressing the cervical spine.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, Cow Pose enhances flexibility, mobilizes the spine, and opens the chest. Spiritually, it encourages openness and connection, inviting you to embrace feelings of love and compassion. This pose helps to cultivate a sense of grounding and stability while fostering an open heart and mind.

Beginners’ Tips

  • Start Slow: Begin with small movements to ensure proper alignment and avoid straining your back.

  • Use Props: Place a folded blanket under your knees for extra cushioning if you feel discomfort.

  • Focus on Breath: Synchronize your movements with your breath to create a smooth and mindful flow.

Who Should Not Do It

  • Recent Back Injuries: Avoid if you have had recent severe back injuries or surgeries.

  • Knee Issues: Those with knee problems should use caution or modify the pose to reduce pressure on the knees.

  • Neck Problems: If you have neck issues, keep your head in a neutral position instead of gazing upward.

Who Should Do It

  • Desk Workers: To counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and poor posture.

  • Beginners: It’s an excellent pose for those new to yoga, offering a gentle introduction to spinal movements.

  • Anyone Seeking Relaxation: To relieve stress and tension in the back and shoulders.

Benefits of Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Physical Benefits

  • Increases Spinal Flexibility: Enhances the flexibility and mobility of the spine.

  • Opens the Chest: Improves lung capacity and breathing.

  • Stretches the Abdominals: Provides a gentle stretch to the abdominal muscles.

  • Relieves Back Tension: Eases tension in the upper and lower back.

  • Improves Posture: Encourages proper spinal alignment and posture.

Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Reduces Stress: Promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.

  • Enhances Mood: Encourages a positive mindset and emotional balance.

  • Boosts Energy: Invigorates the body and mind, reducing feelings of fatigue.

Variations of Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

  • Seated Cow Pose: Perform the same spinal movements while seated in a chair or on the floor.

  • Standing Cow Pose: Practice the spinal movements while standing, with hands on your thighs for support.

  • Cat-Cow Flow: Integrate the Cow Pose with the Cat Pose in a flowing sequence to enhance spinal flexibility.

Modifications for Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

  • Support the Knees: Place a folded blanket under your knees for added cushioning.

  • Neutral Neck: Keep your head in a neutral position if you have neck issues.

  • Smaller Movements: Reduce the range of motion if you experience any discomfort.

Common Mistakes

  • Overarching the Lower Back: Avoid excessive arching in the lower back by engaging your core muscles.

  • Tension in the Neck: Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears to prevent neck strain.

  • Uneven Weight Distribution: Ensure your weight is evenly distributed between your hands and knees.

Safety and Precautions

  • Warm Up Properly: Always warm up your body before practicing Cow Pose to avoid injury.

  • Listen to Your Body: Do not push into pain; ease off if you feel any discomfort.

  • Use Props: Modify the pose with props to ensure proper alignment and support.

Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face While Doing This Pose and Why

Face east during your practice, traditionally associated with new beginnings and positive energy in yoga.

What to Wear for This Pose

Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows freedom of movement. Avoid overly loose garments that might bunch up during the pose.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Practice in a quiet, clean space. Enhance the experience with calming essential oils like lavender or grounding scents like sandalwood.

Music for This Pose

Choose soothing, gentle music or nature sounds to create a peaceful atmosphere and help you focus inward.

Cow Pose (Bitilasana) is a gentle yet powerful posture that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. Whether you’re looking to increase spinal flexibility, open your heart, or relieve stress, this pose provides a holistic approach to wellness. By practicing with mindfulness and proper alignment, you can unlock the full potential of Bitilasana, embracing both its physical and spiritual gifts. So, roll out your mat, breathe deeply, and let the grace of Cow Pose inspire and rejuvenate you.

Happy yoga-ing!


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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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