The Basic Cat
The Basic Cat exercise in Pilates is one of the gentlest and simplest ways to stretch out the back. You see cats making this movement in the morning when they wake, and you can do it too!
Start on all fours aligning your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Allow your back to assume its natural position, in neutral spine!
Inhale and arch your back slightly by letting your chest fall towards the floor, your head to rise up and your butt to stick up and out a bit.
Exhale and pull your core in towards your spine while gently engaging your low butt to begin curling your mid back towards the sky, creating a C-curve. Then continue rounding the upper back dropping the head towards the floor elongating the neck.
At this point, your whole spine should be making a C shape. Your back should be rounded to the greatest extent possible. Try to keep your arms straight and pushing into the floor for extra resistance while stretching the upper back. Keep your abdominals and rib cage pulled in.
Inhale to return to a neutral spine and then repeat the above 4 times!