One of those is cat pose, the other is cow, I'm not sure which is which.
video clips of basic cat/cow movement
The basic 🐱🐮 cat/cow principles* too much tension: The way I see most people do it, there's too much tension and force getting into the pose.
* from my point of view, the basic cat cow, the way most people do it, is they move from one stiff tense posture, into another stiff tense posture, using force. If you watch a cat or tiger do the move, their bodies are much more loose, like a bag of water being stretched and reshaped, rather than a ball of stiff clay that needs great force to put into the posture.
* so the first big tip to get the most out of this move, don't try to muscle your way into maximizing the curvature of the spine to match the pictures of what flexible people are doing. Instead, close your eyes, gently flex your spine back and forth and let the curvature naturally increase as your body warms up, and over days, weeks, months, as you develop flexibility to increase the curvature without using force to make that stretch.
don't brush it off as a beginner moveDon't think just because you're an expert in yoga, flexibility, qigong, that the cat/cow move is only for beginners, or old people, or injured people recovering from severe back injuries. This is a great move as a warm up, as a basic body check to see the spine is in good working order before you do the more challenging advanced move you like to do. It's also something you can do without hands while on a long drive and your back is getting stiff and tired, etc.
why this move is great
* there's a reason most back physical therapy programs incorporate some version of cat/cow. It's safe and highly effective
* Before I do any challenging yoga pose, I'll do a quick cat/cow or something equivalent just to make sure all systems are go, everything is loosened up before getting into a deeper stretch. So in a sun salutation sequence, in between up dog and down dog, I'll often throw in some cat/cow improvisation.
* subtle medusa principle: using the cat cow off the rails version (see below), you can work in some subtle stretching and angles you don't hit if you stick to the conventional yoga playbook.
first improvement: continuous flowmake it into a qigong gentle flow
* cat/cow flex: A much better way to do the cat/cow pose sequence, is to do it in a relaxed way, with multiple repetitions in a set. For example, flex between cat and cow pose 18 times, experimenting with how many breaths you hold each pose, maybe 10% of the time experimenting with a full stretch using some force like the conventional way the move is done. The other 90% of the time, focus more on passaddhi/pacification/relaxation, smoothness, flow, release of tension while doing the movement at various speeds.
second improvement: around the world* don't just flex cat/cow forward/backward spinal movement. Do it side to side, and then hit all 360 degrees around the world.
* make circle movements with your hips and tailbone as your doing these stretches to really open a whole world of stretches not in the basic cat/cow.
third improvement (advanced level): gorilla jazz improv* while doing basic cat/cow flexing around the world, incorporate other types of qigong movement like neck circling, turtle qigong neck and spine undulation. To give your spine an infinite variety of subtle stretches.
I'll make a video one of these days to demonstrate an example of this.
you can do 🐱🐮 in all postures
*including from cross leg sitting on floor such as
🧘🐢FLT* sitting in a chair
* standing with hands free, you don't have to brace your hands on your thighs or back
* lying down. Like it's 2am, time to wake up, you're in the sleeping bag and its cold. Do 36 cycles of cat/cow to warm up.
why do I call it "flying" 🐱🐮?
Because I'm taking a simple basic idea, and turning it into a powerful principle that you can apply throughout the day in any posture, taking it off the rails of the limited basic, liberating it, letting you fly, letting you soar and accomplish much more in loosening the spine than you thought possible. With good spinal health, good health in general, good samadhi is possible. You can not have good samadhi without a certain degree of spinal health.