This week, we’re trying to drown out this terrible rain by talking about summer! Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) is great to practice in a sunny field somewhere. Maybe even next to a real cow? Maybe not. You can always practice Cow Face Pose at home or in hot yoga class.
How Cow Face Pose can benefit you
Cow Face Pose is great for stretching the hips, thighs, shoulders, triceps and the chest. It helps us to open up into the armpit area and lengthen along the side of the torso.
If you have any serious shoulder or neck injuries you may want to skip this pose until you have recovered. We always say ‘don’t practice into pain’, if anything hurts, back off.
How to practice Cow Face Pose
Start seated in Dandasana (Staff Pose) and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Bend your left knee further and bring the left foot under the right knee to the outside edge of your right hip. Then, crossing your right leg over your left, bring the right foot to the outside edge of the left hip. If your hips are open enough, maybe you can stack one knee on top of another here, but don’t worry if the hips don’t allow this.
This can be quite sore for people with hip / knee injuries. If you’re experiencing any pain try sitting on a block or two, adding height can help to lighten the pressure. If this still really hurts, you can always practice Gomukhasana arms whilst in crossed-leg seated. However your legs are arranged, make sure you’re evenly weighted between both sit bones.
As we have right leg over left, we’ll be looking to bring the right arm out to the side, palm facing behind with the thumb side turned towards the floor. Sweep this arm around behind you and bring the forearm to the back. You can start with it parrallel to the waist whilst to roll the right shoulder back and down, opening the right side of the chest again. Keeping the right side of the chest open, start to edge the forearm up the back as if it were to go in line with the spine. Only bring the right arm as high up as you can still keep the right shoulder rolled back.
Then with the right hand in place, we can lift the left arm overhead. Stay hear for a breath, feeling length in the left shoulder joint, then bend at the elbow and lower the arm down the back. See if the left hand and reach to the right and the fingers of each hand can clasp together. If they don’t come together you can place a belt between both hands.
From here, lift the left elbow to the ceiling and let the top of the left shoulder drop down the back whilst also trying to keep the bicep near to the ear. Keep awareness in the front of the right shoulder and maintain the backwards roll of the elbow and front of shoulder in order to keep width along that part of the chest. Flatten the shoulder blades firmly towards the spine. Notice if the lower ribs are flaring out and work to draw them back in towards the spine, you can help with this by sitting heavier through your sit bones into your support below.
Stay in this pose for 6 rounds of breath and to come out of it, first release the arm bind (you may want to give them a little shake here) and then unravel the legs back to Dandasana. Set up to repeat on the other side.
Preparatory Poses for Cow Face Pose
Some poses to help you prep for this big stretch are:
For the hips;
For the upper body;
Have a practice of your Cow Face Pose and share your progress
Cow Face Pose is a surprisingly challenging pose, and this week is a great chance for you to work on it. We will be working on Cow Face Pose in class. As always, our teachers are here to give you individual tips and help with your pose
Best of luck with your practice! We’d love to see your pose on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #yfweeklypose
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