Gomukhasana, also known as Cow Face Pose, stretches the shoulders, triceps and armpits as well as the legs and chest.
Experts believe that regular practice of the Cow Face Pose cures cramp in the legs and makes the leg muscles elastic. The chest is well expanded and the back becomes erect in this yoga asana. Also the shoulder joints move freely and the latissimus dorsi are fully extended in this yoga pose.
|Known as:||Gomukhasana, Cow Face Pose|
|Type:||Seated, hip opener, restorative pose|
|Total time:||30 to 60 seconds|
|Chakra:||Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra|
|Focus:||Shoulders, upper arms|
|Indications:||Fatigue, stress, anxiety, cure hydrocele, sciatica, high blood pressure, asthma, kidney and digestive system|
|Counterpose:||Dandasana (Staff Pose)|
|Preparatory poses:||Butterfly Pose, Reclining Hero Pose, Reclining Bound Angle Pose, Reclining Hand-to-big-toe Pose, Wide-angle Seated Forward Bend Pose, Hero Pose|
|Follow-up poses:||Half Lord of the Fishes Pose or Seated Twist Pose, Bharadvaja’s Twist Pose, Eagle Pose, Marichi’s Pose III, Lotus Position, Intense Dorsal Stretch Pose, Upavistha Konasana|
|Contraindications:||Shoulder injury, neck injury, ankle injury, knee injury, or hip injury|
Gomukhasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of three words — Go + mukha + asana:
- “Go” = “cow”
- “mukha” = “face”
- “asana” = “pose or posture”
By combining all the three words, it means Cow Face Pose. The body posture in Gomukhasana looks like the face of a cow, the knee posture looks like a cow’s mouth and the hand posture, one up and one down, looks like a cow’s ear, therefore, we call it Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose.
Benefits of Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Cow Face Pose brings a lot of benefits in itself as many parts of the muscles, especially the shoulders and upper arms, work together to give beauty to the pose. Listed below are some physical and mental benefits but which require a lot of practice.
- Physical Benefits:
- Tones the abdominal muscles and lower back
- Opens the knee, ankle, and shoulder joints
- Stretches the entire back
- Stretches the thighs, chest, and arms
- Opens the chest enabling deeper breathing
- Improves respiration and cures respiratory problems
- Stimulates the functions of kidneys and digestive system
- Mental Benefits:
- Reduces stress
- Relieves mild depression
- Relieves anxiety
- Improves focus
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) Practice Guide
- Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana); Sit on the ground and extend your legs straight ahead, bend your ankles and point your toes toward your torso, which is straight and tall from your hips to the sky.
- Bend the knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Set your left foot on your right thigh, right foot on the outside of your right hip. Wrap your right leg over your left thigh, placing your right knee on top of your left knee. Then, step your right foot just outside your left hip. Your hips should be as they rest between the soles of your feet.
- Inhale and extend your right hand in front of you. Turn your arm inward until your thumb points to the left and your palm is facing up. By doing this your upper back will be rounded. As you exhale, move your hand behind your body and relax into the arch created by your lower back, keeping your arm parallel to your waist. Push your shoulders down and slowly raise your hand until your forearm is vertical. Keep your elbows on the right side of your body.
- Inhale and extend your left hand in front of you. Rotate your hand until your palm is facing the sky. While exhaling, raise your hand above your head. Stretch through your left fingers. Exhale and bend your left elbow, place your left hand behind your head to grasp your right, and interlace your fingers if you can. If your hands can’t touch, hold a towel in your left hand and as you stretch it behind your back, grab the other end of the towel with your right hand. Use this aid to stretch your arms. Over time, your arms will move forward until you can no longer hold your hands.
- Lift your left elbow and pull your right elbow behind your armpit toward the ground. Tighten your shoulder blades on your back and lift your chest. Try to keep your left hand on the left side of your head as well.
- Stay in this posture for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, let go of your fingers, return your arms to your sides and bring your legs out in front.
- Repeat the process reversing the direction of your both arms and legs.
Range of motion or movement: Your body has the ability to perform many functions, but our modern lifestyle limits its opportunities. Humans are designed to undergo joint actions more regularly. Your yoga practice helps you maintain these abilities in full range of motion (ROM). When it comes to ROM, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Blood vessel changes: There is slight pressure on the blood vessels in your shoulders, like a loose tourniquet. When you release the pose, the blood rushes to that area. This vascular pressure causes an increase of nitric oxide (NO), encourages blood vessel dilation, slightly lowers blood pressure and increases relaxation.
Step-by-step Anatomy Engaging Techniques
In Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose, you specifically stretch around your shoulders and the outside of your hips and buttocks. You are also engaging your major postural muscles to counteract the slouching or rounding forward.
Your knees are centered, while your hands are reaching toward each other, trying to hold your fingers. Your elbows are extending towards the center. Keep your spine neutral or lean back slightly, trying to twist or bend.
Step-1: Top Arm
Shoulder flexors—anterior deltoid and pectoralis major—flex the shoulder. Stabilize your middle deltoid and supraspinatus, and engage your infraspinatus, teres minor, and posterior deltoid to externally rotate. It engages your elbow flexors and stretches your triceps brachii.
While you’re stretching your rectus abdominis, engage your spinal extensors and transversus abdominis to slightly extend and stabilize. Engage your rhomboids to retract your scapula.
Engage your splenius capitis and splenius cervicis to press your head backward, perhaps in slight cervical extension to counteract the tendency for your head to fall forward.
Step-4: Bottom Arm
Stretch your posterior deltoid into an internal rotation of your shoulder. The anterior deltoid, subscapularis, teres major, pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi internally rotate the shoulder. Engage your elbow flexors while you’re stretching your triceps brachii.
Flex your hip flexors This will help stabilize your hip in flexion while stretching your quadriceps and gluteus medius, minimus and maximus.
Step-6: Dynamic Deltoids
Engage and stretch each part of your deltoids (divide into three parts, or heads, with opposing actions). The cue for this dynamically engaging and stretching of your deltoids leads to cardiovascular shifts in both system-wide and local blood vessels.
Precautions and contraindications
Certain precautions and contraindications may not help in practicing this yoga posture, which are listed below:
- Practitioners who have a very tight shoulder may need to take it slow and easy.
- There will be a lot of strain on your upper arms and wrists, so be careful while doing this yoga asana. Here yoga teacher’s/instructor’s guidance is necessary. Trying to reach for your palms without understanding the flexibility of your arms will be harmful.
- Any type of hip problem or injury to your knee, hamstring and quadricep should be avoided practice.
- If you have sciatica, it may not be a good idea to cross your knee because there will be pressure on your sciatic nerve.
- Any type of neck and shoulder injury should be avoided.
- Pregnant women completely avoid Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose, as crossing your legs on the thighs can put pressure on your lower abdomen which may not be safe.
- Also the backache, shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain should be avoided.