Yoga Asanas

Gomukhasana - Cow face pose

Posted on 2019-01-09


Gomukhasana is an Asana performed in the seated position. The word is derived from the Sanskrit words Go meaning cow, Mukha meaning face and asana meaning pose. It conjoins stretches, meditation and targets many muscles all in one posture.

In English, the asana is known as the Cow face pose.

Gomukhasana Step by step

Step 1: Starting on your knees in table position, cross the right leg over the left leg just above the knee. Place the top of the right foot on the floor and next to the ankle of the left foot.

Step 2: Exhale as you sit back on your heels. Bring your left hand to your left knee and right hand to the right knee. Place your chin towards the sternum and inhale so that you sit straight. Ensure your spine is aligned straight and your upper torso stands high.

Step 3: Take deep breaths when in this position and on the count of a few breathes, place the left arm over the ear and close to the head in a straight position. Use your right arm to push the left one further down the shoulder blades.

Step 4: Bend the elbow of the right arm and bring it downwards to your side. Push the right arm upwards from the side of the right ribcage so that it meets the left arm at the back. Curl the fingers of both arms at the center of the shoulder blades for a good lock. Pull your arms pointing the elbows one to the ceiling and the other downwards to the floor.

Step 5: Now you can turn your neck on either side for a good stretch on the neck and shoulders. You can stay in this position or you can now lower your forehead all the way to your knees.

Modifications

If you have tight shoulders you can use a strap to hold at your back instead of holding your hands. If you feel that your ankles are uncomfortable while you are in position, place a folded mattress underneath the ankles for comfort. If you have knee pain or are uncomfortable sitting on your heels, you can sit on a block or a blanket that will raise your body off the ground so that your knees are not painful.

Preparatory poses

Vrksasana (tree pose), seated eagle pose (Garudasana) and Paschimottanasana.

Follow up poses

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Benefits

  • Stretches and strengthens the spine

  • Stretches the neck and shoulders.

  • Stretches the arms

  • Strengthens the thighs

  • Improves posture

  • Stretches the thighs

  • Opens the hips

  • Relieves knee pain

Bandhas

Jalandhara, Moola, and Uddiyana bandhas.

Drishti

Forward (In the direction of the nose)

Variations

This pose can be performed in two variations. In the first one, you end the pose when you have held your hands at your back. In the second more advanced pose (the forward bending cow face pose) you bend your torso forwards so that your forehead is in the direction of your knees or you rest your face inside your thighs.

Traditions

Gomukhasana, Cow face pose has been cited in two yoga traditions. It has been cited as one of the 15 asanas in the texts of the yogica tradition. Also, it has been cited in the Gheranda Samhita a manual where 32 positions are cited and Gomukhasana is amongst them. This shows that this pose is really important.

Pose type

Seated pose, stretching pose

Beginner tips

  • For beginners, it might be hard to hold your hands at the back. In such a case you can use a strap.

  • Do not collapse the center of your chest or raise the ribs when performing the pose. Ensure that you are straight and observe your breaths to determine this.

Previous Garudasana - Eagle pose
Next Hanumanasana - Monkey pose

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