Cat/cow, Part 1: The first two photos show flexion (cat) & extension (cow)  of the spine without collapse in the low back area. When you move into cat, you exhale to brace the abdominal wall and the hips at the same time. This provides support for the lumbar spine and creates mobility in the thoracic spine - the spine's peak in this pose is in between the shoulder blades.  

Cat/cow, Part 1: The first two photos show flexion (cat) & extension (cow)  of the spine without collapse in the low back area. When you move into cat, you exhale to brace the abdominal wall and the hips at the same time. This provides support for the lumbar spine and creates mobility in the thoracic spine - the spine's peak in this pose is in between the shoulder blades.  

Cat/cow, Part 2: When you inhale, you extend your spine, moving the tailbone at the base of the spine and the crown of the head away from each other in space.  By focusing on length in your spine when it's in extension, you are able to create mobility in the low back and neck without putting undue pressure on these areas. When you are in cow pose, put a prop in front of your mat, like the block in the photo above, and move your chest towards the block instead of towards the floor. 

Cat/cow, Part 2: When you inhale, you extend your spine, moving the tailbone at the base of the spine and the crown of the head away from each other in space.  By focusing on length in your spine when it's in extension, you are able to create mobility in the low back and neck without putting undue pressure on these areas. When you are in cow pose, put a prop in front of your mat, like the block in the photo above, and move your chest towards the block instead of towards the floor. 

Cow pose: Here's a visual of what happens when we move our spine towards the floor in cow pose, as opposed to the block at the front of the yoga mat. There's too much compression on the lumbar and cervical disks, and our spine has no support from the arms and legs.  Think of your spine as a shoelace you're pulling in opposite directions instead a twisty-tie that you're making into a "u" shape. 

Cow pose: Here's a visual of what happens when we move our spine towards the floor in cow pose, as opposed to the block at the front of the yoga mat. There's too much compression on the lumbar and cervical disks, and our spine has no support from the arms and legs.  Think of your spine as a shoelace you're pulling in opposite directions instead a twisty-tie that you're making into a "u" shape.