Doing Cat-Cow to This (Obama-Approved) Deep Cut From Prince Is Self-Care Magic

Photo: Thinkstock/Fizkes
No matter how you feel about former President Obama as a politician, you have to admit his year-end lists are solid. Plus, this year's best-of-2018 recs dropped ahead of the laziest weekend in memory. (With Monday and Tuesday off for New Year's, and Christmas over, why do anything but nothing?) So for the first time in months, I had time to actually be curious about something—and on Friday, it was the ex-president's picks.

And now—thanks to Obama's recommendation of a deep, deep Prince cut, and my need to stretch out airplane-scrunched back muscles—I've conjured some kind of crazy self-care magic. (New year's resolution: Be bored more often. Even science says it's good for you.)

The recipe is basically: one part yoga (cat pose and cow pose, specifically), with a generous helping  of whatever Prince was channeling from the heavens back in 1983 during "Mary Don’t You Weep" from Piano & A Microphone.

Maybe shamans would say I'm moving stuck energy, and fitness pros would simply say I'm stretching longer (and getting more of the benefits) because I'm enjoying the music. But all I know is it has unlocked something I struggle to feel on a daily basis: boundless, smiling-to-myself, can't-help-it joy.

It has unlocked something I struggle to feel on a daily basis: boundless, smiling-to-myself, can't-help-it joy.

I already have deep respect for the cat-cow sequence, where you're on your hands and knees, alternatively rounding and arching your back. As Joseph Pilates once said (yes, the man who invented the Reformer and the 100s): "You're only as young as your spine is flexible." I do it on a regular basis, both to wake up my body and to ease PMS.

A couple of years ago, Kundalini teacher Desiree Pais taught me a variation that's even more intense: doing cat-cow as fast as you can for three minutes, as part of a larger Kundalini sequence to manifest prosperity. Afterward, it always felt like my molecules were somehow vibrating, and converting into steam—like I was going to float away. And yeah, I felt high. (Did it bring me prosperity? Hard to tell, but hey, it didn't hurt.)

Taking my cat-cow habit and adding Prince to the mix—especially this song—changed everything, though. At first I was just alternating the poses at eight counts each. The slow, soulful ballad almost immediately did something. A feeling of electricity started moving from the base of my spine to the top of my head. If it were a sound, it would've resembled the initial gurgles and rumbles of a coffee pot in the morning. And as I continued (speeding it up to four counts each, then two), there was a feeling of almost silent slipperiness.

Prince drops his trademark falsetto to hit some pretty low notes in this song, too (I thought it was a duet with a deep-voiced dude at first). Each time he does, my feet and hands tingle and feel extra-magnetized toward the ground, making me feel secure and earthbound somehow—the opposite of high. By the end of the four-minute song, my winter-chilled body is loose-limbed and radiating warmth, as if I had been laying in the sun for hours.

And, get this: When the teenage barista at my coffee shop cheerily urged me to "Have a happy new year!" at 7:30 a.m. today, I surprised myself by beaming, "You too!" And listen, I really, really meant it. I'm usually not that nice. Especially before 8.

So consider me a "no" for New Year's Eve parties—and it's not just because the joy of missing out, or JOMO, is particularly sweet when everyone in New York City is trying to get a cab at 12:30 a.m. on January 1.

I'm going to ring in 2019 with Prince. If the way you start the year really does set the tone for the next 12 months, it will be a happy new year.

One thing we know is happening in '19: These trends are going to be huge. And there probably will be enough oat milk for everybody (cross fingers).

Tags: Yoga
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