Cow Face

Sanskrit: Gomukasana

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body but it might not feel like it in Cow Face pose! This is a very challenging pose for everyone, but especially those who have tightness in the shoulders. It stretches the ankles, hips, thighs, shoulders, chest and triceps.

Notice if there are differences in your body between the pose on the right and left sides. You may be able to connect the bind on one side but not on the other. Just observe!

Why Cow Face? It’s said that the position of the legs resembles the mouth of a cow and the arms resemble the ears.

How to get into the pose:

  • From Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana) bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to the floor. Draw your left foot under your right knee and bring your heel outside your right hip. Stack your right knee over the left knee and bring your right heel outside your left hip. The tops of your feet should be facing forward and your heels should be about equal distance from your hips on both sides. Try to sit with the weight distributed equally between the seat bones.

  • Inhale your right arm to shoulder height and rotate your arm inwards - your thumb will point down. If you can, continue the rotation so your palm faces the ceiling. Exhale to bend your right elbow and draw your forearm against your spine. Inhale your left arm overhead with your palm facing to the right or perhaps the back of your mat. Exhale to bend your left elbow and connect your fingers in a bind. See below for modifications if this is not possible.

  • Keep your neck long, drawing the crown of the head up and letting the seat bones descend. Keep your right elbow drawing down and your left elbow drawing up. Keep your chest lifted and don’t round into your shoulders.

  • Draw your abdominal muscles in and up (engage uddiyana bandha).

  • Take deep breaths.

  • Uncross your legs and arms and return to Dandasana then repeat the pose on the other side.

Remember to create the balance between effort and ease in your pose.

How long to stay in the pose:

  • Ten breaths on each side

Gaze (Drishti)

  • The space ahead of you

Modifications you can take to make this pose more accessible:

  • Keep your bottom leg straight if it is too much to bend at both knees (picture three)

  • Use a strap to help as you work towards the finger bind (picture four)

  • Sit on a folded blanket to make the pose more comfortable for the seat bones

Contraindications / Cautions:

  • Do not practice this pose if you have a shoulder injury or are recovering from shoulder surgery