Pose of the month
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Pose of the month

Cow Face Pose

Cow face pose, or Gomukhasana, is a challenging seated pose. It is a deep hip opener and is often difficult for people with tight shoulders. Although it is a seated, deep stretch pose, it is noted as being a restorative one.

Cow Face Yoga PoseCow face pose opens the shoulder joint giving a wider range of motion. It is a key pose for opening the hips. Hips are the known storage depot for stress, anxiety and fear. Sitting in this pose for several minutes while concentrating on your breath and release of these deep muscles, your body will overcome these negative affects, it will also improve your posture because of the focus on the lift of the spine.

Beginners often have a difficult time getting both sitting bones to rest evenly on the floor, which can make it difficult for the knees to stack on top of each other evenly. When the pelvis is tilted, the spine can't properly extend. Use a folded blanket or bolster to lift the sitting bones off the floor and support them evenly.

1. Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose), then bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Slide your left foot under the right knee to the outside of the right hip. Then cross your right leg over the left, stacking the right knee on top of the left, and bring the right foot to the outside of the left hip. Try to bring the heels equidistant from the hips: with the right leg on top you'll have to tug the right heel in closer to the left hip. Sit evenly on the sitting bones.

cow face pose, front view, 2 .Inhale and stretch your right arm straight out to the right, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm inwardly; the thumb will turn first toward the floor, then point toward the wall behind you, with the palm facing the ceiling. This movement will roll your right shoulder slightly up and forward, and round your upper back. With a full exhalation, sweep the arm behind your torso and tuck the forearm in the hollow of your lower back, parallel to your waist, with the right elbow against the right side of your torso. Roll the shoulder back and down, then work the forearm up your back until it is parallel to your spine. The back of your hand will be between your shoulder blades. See that your right elbow doesn't slip away from the right side of your torso.

3. Now inhale and stretch your left arm straight forward, pointing toward the opposite wall, parallel to the floor. Turn the palm up and, with another inhalation, stretch the arm straight up toward the ceiling, palm turned back. Lift actively through your left arm, then with an exhalation, bend the elbow and reach down for the right hand. If possible, hook the right and left fingers.

4. Lift the left elbow toward the ceiling and, from the back armpit, descend the right elbow toward the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift your chest. Try to keep the left arm right beside the left side of your head.

5. Stay in this pose about 1 minute. Release the arms, uncross the legs, and repeat with the arms and legs reversed for the same length of time. Remember that whichever leg is on top, the same-side arm is lower.

Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly trained teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:
  • If you have sciatica, the use of a prop under the hips or folding forward could aggravate the condition.
  • If you have serious neck or shoulder problems
  • If pregnant, remain seated on the knees rather than doing the intense hip opening stretch
  • If you have serious knee problems
  • Untreated herniations in the spine


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