If the thought of Gomukhasana makes you cringe, you are not alone! Cow Face Pose can be intense for the entire body. It opens the arms, shoulders, chest, hips, and glutes. This pose never came easy, and I continue to work on it regularly. Patience, breath, and experimenting with different versions revealed just how beneficial Gomukhasana is.
Below are instructions for Cow Face Pose, and variations to try. Hold each for 2-5
Gomukhasana, Cow Face Pose
Cow Face should come towards the middle to end of your practice. Warm up with poses such as Low and High Crescent Lunge, Warrior I and II, Triangle, Cobra, and Cobbler’s Pose.
From all fours, cross your right knee over the left, stacking one on top of the other. Sit down between your legs rooting both sitz bones on the mat. If one sitz bone is higher than the other, rest on a block or blanket.
Inhale, reach your right arm out to the side, then rotate the arm inwardly so the thumb faces the ground. Exhale your arm behind your back, bend the elbow, and work your hand up towards your neck. Roll your right shoulder back and down.
Inhale, reach your left arm forward, palm up, and draw your arm towards the sky. Exhale, bend your elbow. Reach to grasp your fingers. Use a strap or towel if the fingers do not yet clasp.
Focus on the lower body in this Yin yoga version. Stack the knees as previously described, and rest each hand on a foot. Remain here, or to go deeper, fold forward and rest your forehead on your knee, stacked fists, or a block.
Parivrtta Gomukhasana, Twisted
Inhale, stack your right knee on top of the left. The knee that is on top is the direction in which you will twist. Exhale, twist from your navel towards the right, resting your left forearm on your thigh. Place your right hand behind you.
Unwind from that side, and do the same on the left.
Gomukhasana with Eagle Arms
Stack your right knee on top of the left. Inhale, extend the arms out at your sides, creating a “T” shape. Exhale, swing the right arm underneath the left as your press your forearms together, keeping them perpendicular to the floor. Press the palms, or grab the opposite wrist. Lift the elbows slightly as you melt your shoulders down the back.
If this feels uncomfortable, keep the arms crossed, but release the palms on the shoulders and give yourself a big hug. Make sure to do the same for the left side.
Supta Gomukhasana, Reclined Cow Face
Lie on your back and cross your right knee over the left. Inhale, grasp your ankles. Exhale, draw your feet towards the floor on either side of your waist.
Unwind, and set up for the left side.
It took awhile to stack my knees without a prop and my shoulders are still tight, but I continue on the Gomukhasana journey! Join me in integrating the variations to broaden and grow your yoga practice.