Cow face pose

Gomukhasana

Categories:
Hip opener, Shoulder opener

The cow face pose stretches the hips, thighs, ankles, chest, shoulders and arms.

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Step by step explanation

The cow face pose can be done by

  1. Start in a seated position with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bring your right knee on top of the left knee and extend your right foot out to the left side. If you have space in your hips you can then bend your left leg underneath your right leg, bringing your left heel towards your right buttock muscle. If you notice your right hip is lifting away from the ground keep your left leg extended outwards. Over time of repeating this, your hips will start to open and the full expression of the pose will become available.
  2. Reach both arms up towards the ceiling and then start to bend your right arm bringing your right palm between the back of your shoulder blades. Adjust the right elbow with your left arm, opening the front of your right shoulder.
  3. Either stay here or reach your left arm to the left side with your thumb pointing down and then bring your left arm behind your back. If you have space slowly crawl your left arm up towards your right arm bringing the hands together if possible – otherwise grabbing the back of your t-shirt with your hands.
  4. Keep opening the front of your right shoulder, lengthening and lifting your abdomen upwards and making sure that your lower ribs are not sticking out. Keep a soft gaze looking down in front of you.
  5. Hold this pose for at least five long and deep breathes, perhaps for several minutes.
  6. To come out of the pose release your arms down and change sides.
  7. This time bring your left knee on top of the right knee and extend your left foot out to the right side. If you have space in your hips you can then bend your right leg underneath your left leg, bringing your right heel towards your left buttock muscle. Again, if you notice your left hip is lifting away from the ground, keep your right leg extended outwards.
  8. Reach both arms up towards the ceiling and then start to bend your left arm, bringing your left palm between the back of your shoulder blades. Adjust the left elbow with your right arm, opening the front of your left shoulder.
  9. Either stay here or reach your right arm to the right side with your thumb pointing down and then bring your right arm behind your back. If you have space, slowly crawl your right arm up towards your left arm bringing the hands together if possible – otherwise grabbing the back of your t-shirt with your hands.
  10. Keep opening the front of your left shoulder, lengthening and lifting your abdomen upwards and making sure that your lower ribs are not sticking out. Keep a soft gaze looking down in front of you.
  11. Again, hold the pose for at least five long and deep breathes, and perhaps for several minutes.
  12. When you are ready to come out of the pose let go of your hands and slowly place your arms next to the body. Finally, uncross your legs and come back into the seated position in which you started.

Cautions

Read the following cautions to stay safe

  • This can be a very intense pose for the knees and shoulders. Make sure you do not have injuries or tight/weak shoulders or knees.
  • If you are concerned about anything of this pose, please contact your physician on whether this practice is good for you.

Making the pose easier

  • It is important to keep an upright posture and that both your sitting bones are grounded. If you find it hard to keep an upright posture, you can extend the bottom leg out in front of you or sit upon a cushion, so that both sitting bones can ground. This will make the seated pose easier. Over time of repeating this, your hips will start to open and the full expression of the pose will become available.
  • If you are not able to hold the hands behind your back, you can take hold of the back of your t-shirt or use a towel in the hand of the upper arm and hold it behind the back on both sides. Each time you perform the cow face pose try to get both hands a little closer together by crawling your hands up and down the t-shirt or towel.
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Suggested preparation poses

Suggested follow-up poses