First off, if you're new to this series, I'd ask that you backtrack and read my disclaimer here. Basically, I am a student and a patient; therefore, I am presenting information from the perspective of a student and a patient. No part of this is medical, professional, or other expert advice. Please use it, modify it, or disregard it according to your own best judgment.
So. Though I've most often seen cat-cow done as a connected flow, it's actually two poses. One of them -- cat -- is also the first pose we're discussing that involves contracting the pelvic floor muscles.
Bitilasana / Cow Pose:
See it here on Yoga Journal.
- Start on all fours, with your knees more or less under your hips (if you have sensitive knees, you may want to place a blanket underneath for padding) and your hands more or less under your shoulders (I place mine a little wider to accommodate my chest).
- As you inhale, slide your chest forward and lift it to the ceiling while letting your shoulders slide back. At the same time, lift up through the crown of your head and through your sit bones, creating a backbend. When you tilt your tailbone up toward the ceiling, your pelvic floor muscles will stretch and relax.
- In the fullest expression of this asana, check to make sure you're not cranking into your neck or dumping into your low back. Probably both will have some arch in them, but try bringing the majority of the effort to your heart, shoulders, and upper back.
Marjaryasana / Cat Pose
The single visual is here.
- From cow pose, exhale and round your spine. Drop the top of your head toward the floor and tuck your tailbone.
- This is probably a time where it's good to visualize what your pelvic floor is doing, particularly if you're not used to isolating those muscles or feeling them at work. Drawing your navel in toward your spine and engaging your abdominals will increase your pelvic tuck. Similarly, lifting through your pelvic floor -- think, "ZOMG, tampon/cup/jizz that is about to splort out of me!" -- will engage the muscles there.
I tend to use this flow as a way to warm up my back, which is already relatively bendy on its own. Because of that, I tend to be ready to move on after 3-6 rounds of the flow. However, judging from my yoga teachers and the other yogis in my classes, I would wager that I am on the shorter end of the bell curve when it comes to this. I have heard various other sources talk about 10-12 breaths or 1-2 minutes.
Basically, I think, do it as long as feels good to you. And when you are done -- stop.
A good brief video showing and narrating the basic flow:
Additionally, if you're comfortable or experienced with yoga, you might want to try this flow that also incorporates child's pose (coming next to a pelvic floor series near you!) and cobra. I don't think it does anything extra special for my pelvic floor specifically, but I love it for my spine: