Gomukhasana is a pose that stretches several parts of your body simultaneously. These areas include ankles, thighs, hips, chest, neck, arms and hands. Wow, that’s a lot! There are several explanations for the name (cow face pose). Obviously the cow is very sacred in India. One is that when you view the pose from behind it resembles the face of a cow. I don’t really see it. Another is that in India once every thousand years a cow sits down in this fashion. Perhaps. There are a couple of ways to come into Gomukhasana. You can start in staff pose; then bend your knees, sliding one leg (say your left) under the other and finally wrapping the other leg (right) over and back. A variation is to start on your hands and knees and then pull one leg in front of the other, crossing your legs such that the thighs touch. Then sit down between your heels. Try them both to see what works best for you. Keeping your back straight you want to bring your feet in towards your hips such that your knees are basically stacked one on top of the other.
Now for the arms. If you right leg is over your left leg you take your LEFT arm up and over your back. The elbow points toward the ceiling and the hand down towards the center of your back. Now take your right arm and reach it from under, moving your right hand towards the left in the center of your back. If your hands reach each other you can clasp them. If not, you can hold a strap in each hand and gently pull the hands toward each other.
You are going to do this asana twice. Once with the right leg on top, and once with the left leg on top. It is thought that the right leg on top is the “masculine” pose which benefits the physical aspect of your body and left leg on top “feminine” benefits the mental aspect of your body. Remember that whatever leg is on top (say right) the OPPOSITE arm (say left) is going to be the one that has the elbow pointing up in the air.
Preparation and Pose Tips
Keep your chest open and pull shoulder blades toward each other. If it helps keep your back straight and your sitting bones or buttocks on the ground, you can use a cushion or a folded blanket to sit on.
- Because it stimulates nerves at the base of the spine Gomukhasana regenerates your entire body.
- Can wake up your braid.
- Stretches knees and thigh muscles.
Advanced or Partner
A variation is to lay both arms in front of you and lay your head towards (and over if you can) your knees. Gomukhasana is considered to be a very meditative pose and you can hold as long as you are comfortable
Be careful if you have any shoulder, elbow, or knee injuries. Try to keep your body from swaying.
Six to ten breaths unless you are comfortable with a Yin style of yoga where you can hold up to five minutes.
Recovery and Counterpose
A good counter bose is to sit in Vajrasana. Then from behind your head grab your hands by the fingers and gently pull your arms outwards. Take a couple of deep breaths.