Derived from the Sanskrit words ‘Gow’ which means cow, ‘Mukha’ which means face or mouth, and ‘Asana’ which means pose or posture, Cow Face Pose or Gomukhasana is an intermediate pose that completely opens up the hips and tests the flexibility of your thighs and shoulders.
Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
Cow face pose is not a beginner-friendly pose and requires some flexibility in order to perform this pose correctly. As the individual gets into this pose, their thighs and calves tend to look like a cow’s face, giving this pose its name.
Cow Face Pose Directions:
The following steps will help you practice the cow face pose in no time.
Get into a sitting position with your back straight and your legs extended out in front of you. Bending your left leg, bring your left heel under your right thigh, up and towards the hip. Keep your left knee on the floor and grasp your right foot with your left hand.
Keeping the foot on the floor, place the heel of your right foot against the front-left portion of your left buttock. The right knee should be directly on top of the left knee. As you inhale slowly through the nostrils, raise your right hand over your head and gently bend the right elbow.
Reach behind your back with the left hand and clasp the fingers of both hands to form an “S” shaped lock. Hold the posture for about one minute or as long you can comfortably hold the inhaled breath.
Slowly come back to starting position by releasing the arms and uncrossing your legs. Repeat this position, switching to the opposite arms and legs, and hold the pose for the same amount of time. Keep in mind that whichever leg is on top, the same-side arm will be the arm placed on the lower end, as seen in the picture above.
Cow Face Pose Variations:
Yoga should not add any stress or tension to the mind and body. Because this pose requires flexibility, those individuals who have tight shoulders will find this pose difficult to practice.
However, the following variation might help those individuals with tight shoulders to practice this pose with more comfort.
Place a strap over the shoulder of the arm that is lower and, as you move the arm behind your back, raise your forearm as high as you can, keeping the elbows in close to the torso and holding on to the end of the strap.
Stretching the other arm, raising it above your head, reach to hold the other end of the strap and pull with the arm that is higher. Try to raise your lower arm higher onto the back.
Bring your hands together to touch. It’s okay if you are only able to hold your hands together on one side.
Benefits of Cow Face Pose:
Cow face pose has proved to bring the body a multitude of health benefits that include flexibility, which plays an important role in protecting the body from injury as we age.
Below are the added benefits that come from regularly practicing cow face pose:
- Improves flexibility, especially in the shoulders
- Gives the hamstrings a good stretch
- Increases blood flow
- Promotes strength in the knees
- Strengthens the spine
- Tones the abs
- Burns stubborn belly fat
- Aids digestion
- Improves overall function of the abdominal organs
- Opens up the hips
Cow Face Pose Precautions:
If you suffer from any chronic conditions or are recovering from injury or surgery, it is best to consult your doctor before engaging in any activity that might worsen your condition.
It is best to avoid this pose if you suffer from the following conditions:
- Cardiac conditions
- Acute painful conditions in the shoulders and hips
- Osteoarthritic hips or knees (can only practice shoulder movement while sitting in Sukhasana or in standing position).
1. How can one practice the cow face pose?
The cow face pose can be practiced by following the steps above. You also have the option to modify the pose by using a strap for added comfort.
Updated by Siya Rajan on 06/02/2018
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Courtesy The Yoga Institute, Santacruz (E), Mumbai
Cow Face Pose Benefits. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tummee.com/yoga-poses/cow-face-pose/benefits
Editors, Y. (2007, August 28). Cow Face Pose. Retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/cow-face-pose