Cow Face Pose / Gomukhasana
Step by step
- Start in Dandasana (Staff pose). Bend the right knee. Bring your left foot to the outside of your right hip, weaving it underneath your right knee. Then bring your right foot to the outside of your left hip, so that (if possible) your right knee is stacked on top of your left knee. Try to have your heels at an equal distance from your hips and your sit bones grounded evenly into the floor.
- Inhale and stretch your arms out to the sides, fingertips stretching out in opposite directions palms of the hand facing forward. Internally rotate your left shoulder by rotating the left hand forward so your palm faces to the wall behind you and your thumb points down.
- Exhale and sweep that same arm behind your back, walking your hand up between your shoulder blades, palm facing outwards.
- Inhale and stretch the right arm up, fingertips pointing towards the ceiling and the palm of your hand still facing forwards.
- Exhale bend the elbow and reach down for the right hand, hooking the fingers. If the fingertips don’t meet just point them towards each other or take hold of your clothes or a belt or scarf.
- Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift and open your chest.
- Stay in the pose for a few breaths.
- To come out release the arms, uncross the legs and repeat on the other side. Remember to switch legs as well as the arms. Whichever leg is on top, the same side arm is lower.
- If you find it difficult to get into this pose, start the pose from all fours and cross your legs bringing your left knee to the inside of your right knee. Walk your right foot to the left and the left foot to the right as far as possible. Then lower your hips and if possible come to rest on your sitbones.
- If you find that your sitting bones are not evenly resting on the floor, sit on a folded blanket or pillow to insure your are evenly grounded.
- If you find it difficult to stack your knees, stretch the lower leg straight out in front of you. Or choose another hip opening pose like Pigeon pose
- Make sure you keep your spine in a straight line from your sitbones to the crown of your head.
- Hold a strap with the top hand, the lower hand can just grab the strap if you cannot reach the hands together.
- Stretches the ankles, hips and thighs.
- Works your triceps and your rotator cuff and your upper back and chest muscles.
- Opens your chest and thoracic spine.
Watch out for
- See that your right elbow doesn't slip away from the right side of your torso.
- Try to keep your head upright in line with the spine.
- If the stretch is too much in the hips - bring your feet closer into your thighs.
- Shoulder injury - only take your arm within the pain free range of motion or choose a less intense shoulder opener.
- Knee injury - there should be no twisting in the knee, the rotation comes from the hip. If you have knee injuries you can practice just the actions of the arms while in a more comfortable seated position or standing.
- You can further this pose by folding forward. Try to keep the weight in your sitting bones and not your knees however. Come out on the inhale
- You can make this pose more intense in the hips by moving your feet further away from the hips.
- Complementary poses
- Try it in class