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Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

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What is Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)?

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Gomukhasana is an ancient seated Hatha Yoga asana, widely known for its upper body relaxation and pelvis opening benefits. This seated posture allows you to align your back, stretch your upper body, and increase flexibility in your legs. 

In the Cow's Face posture, both the legs are clasped in a way that resembles a cow's face, and the arms at the back are held in a formation that resembles a cow's ears. 

The name Gomukhasana is a combination of a few Sanskrit words, like - Go means "Cow," Mukha means "Face," and Asana means "Pose."

The Darshana Upanishad first explained this ancient pose; it was written in the 4th century describing classical yogic stages and Kundalini concepts.

In India, a cow is worshiped as a sacred animal, Kamadhenu. Kamadhenu seems like a cow, and she is the mother of all cows.

According to Hindu Mythology, "Kamadhenu," is the daughter of Daksha (creator of the earth). Vedas also pour light on the facts, like the four legs of Kamadhenu symbolize the four main Vedas.

Kamadhenu's shoulders are a symbol of Agni (god of fire), its horns symbolize the gods, and she's the nurturer of the divine. All Hindu gods reside within this sacred animal soul.

Sanskrit Name: गौमुखासन                       Pronunciation: go-moo-KAHS-anna

Pose Type: Seated Hip Opener              Also known as: Cow Face Pose

Strengthens: Lower Body and Upper Back 

Stretches: Spine, Shoulder, Arms, Pelvis, and Ankles 

Health Benefits of Gomukhasana 

  • Strengthens the hip joints. 

  • Strengthens the arms and spine. 

  • Reduces chronic pain around the knees and lower back.

  • With regular practice, this pose can reduce Sciatica pain.

  • Increases blood circulation around the pelvis and upper body. 

  • Improves neck and spine alignment, which also improves posture. 

  • Performing meditation in this pose for long durations can help reduce stress and anxiety. 

When to Avoid Performing Gomukhasana

  • Avoid if you have severe knee joint or hip joint pain. 

  • Avoid this pose if you have chronic neck or spine pain. 

  • Avoid this asana after spine, back, neck, or pelvis surgery. 

  • If you are a sciatica patient, do not cross your legs in this pose because it can increase pressure around the sciatica nerve. 

How to do Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Gomukhasana is a therapeutic yoga asana that can help you relax your spine, shoulders, and pelvis. The practice of Gomukhasana is divided into four different phases. Let's explore them one by one. 

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Gomukhasana

The opening of the chest, shoulders, spine, and glutes is crucial before starting the Cow Face pose. Below is a list of warm-up yoga asanas that will help you warm up. 

1. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) - This yoga flow is perfect for activating all the essential muscles and body parts for Gomukhasana. 

Surya Namaskar

Just 5 to 10 rounds of Surya namaskar can increase blood circulation in your shoulders, neck, spine, pelvis, and ankles. 

2. Sukhasana (Easy Pose) - This posture is also known as the foundation of all seated yoga asanas. This easy pose helps beginner yogis gain confidence in sitting with their legs crossed, which further strengthens the knee and ankle joints. 

Sukhasana

Practicing this pose for 5 to 10 minutes can help build stability in the vertebral column, pelvis, and legs due to the internal rotation of the glutes. 

3. Baddha Konasana (Cobbler's Pose) - Moving from the Sukhasana pose to Cobbler's pose will help you activate your inner thigh muscles. 

 Baddha Konasana

To move into this pose, simply change the position of your crossed legs and bend them, touching your feet together in Namaste formation. Hold this pose for five minutes. You can also lean forward and hold the pose for five more minutes to deepen the stretch in your glutes and thighs.

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Gomukhasana

Here are the following steps for practicing the Cow Face pose: 

Step 1: In the center of your yoga mat, sit upright with your head, neck, and spine balanced evenly. 

Step 2: Start with Seated Staff Pose. Keep your legs stretched out in a straight line. 

Step 3: Bend both your legs from your knees. Now, move your right leg over your left thigh and rest your right thigh on top of it. 

Step 4: Your knees will now be stacked on top of one another, and both feet should be on opposite sides, equal distance from the hips. 

Step 5: Now, focus on breathing deeply for a few seconds. Inhale deep, and stretch your right arm up, bending it from the elbow, and bringing your right hand behind your back. 

Step 6: Now, bend your left arm from your elbow and extend it behind your back from the side of your left oblique. 

Step 7: Exhale and deeply inhale again as both your hands clasp each other. 

Step 8: Straighten your spine, interlock both your hands, open your chest, engage your pelvis and close both your eyes as you hold your breath here for a few seconds. 

Step 9: Exhale and slowly release your clasped hands from behind your back. 

Step10: Inhale, exhale again, release your legs from the stacked posture, and sit back into the staff pose.

Breath Awareness: 

  • Inhale steadily while engaging the muscles.

  • Exhale deeply while releasing the posture. 
     

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds. 

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold this pose for 1 to 5 minutes.  

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

It’s important to keep a few things in mind before starting the Gomukhasana practice: 

  • Be mindful of your alignment: In this pose, alignment is everything. If you cannot align your neck, spine, and tailbone in one straight line, it will be hard for you to open and relax the body. 

  • Don't over-push: If you don't feel flexible enough to clasp your hands behind your back or cross your legs, there is no need to force this pose on your body. Only flex as much as your body allows you to. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Gomukhasana

Below is a list of some easy, relaxing yoga stretches that you can practice after Gomukhasana: 

1. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose): Post-practice, start your relaxation routine from the Staff pose. Now, stretch both the arms over your head in the air and lean down onto your legs. 

 Paschimottanasana

As you lean forward, keep your core tight and flex both your arms straight in front of you. Hold this pose for a few minutes until your spine is completely relaxed. 

2. Pawanmuktasana (Wind-Releasing Pose): Now, lie down on the mat with your back touching the ground and bend your legs. 

Pawanmuktasana

Lift your neck and try to hug both your legs with your arms. Hold this pose for a few minutes and allow your tailbone to release any tension. 

3. Balasana (The Child’s Pose): Inhale and move into a table-top position, slowly stretching both arms forward. Now, exhale and extend your upper body forward as you place your torso between your legs and sit back. 

Balasana

Hold this position here until your spine, shoulder, and arms feel relaxed, and release this pose. 

Gomukhasana Modifications and Props

If the Cow Face pose feels challenging, try practicing the following posture modifications with props: 

  • Use a folded blanket: Keep a set of folded blankets below your glutes to help you elevate from the ground and maintain the posture with a less pressure and stress in your lower back and hips. 

Use a folded blanket

  • Use a yoga strap: If interlocking your fingers is not possible for you behind your back, you can use a yoga strap to help you build flexibility. 

Use a yoga strap

Use the yoga strap by holding it behind you with both hands. Slowly, you can move your fingers closer to each other, to try and bring your hands together. 


Gomukhasana Variations to Consider

Below are a few Cow Face pose variations for all types of yoga practitioners. You can choose any variation you feel comfortable adding to your current yoga journey. 

1. Ardha Gomukhasana (Half Cow Face Pose): As the name suggests, this is not the full Cow Face posture. This variation will help prepare you for the final pose. 

Half Cow Face pose can be practiced by yogis of all levels since it’s helping in learning how to build strength in seated yoga asanas.

Instead of bending both legs like in the Cow Face pose, bend only one leg. You can also bend forward with your arms extending forward to feel a deep stretch in your lower back, spine, and legs. 

Ardha Gomukhasana

2. Shoelace Pose: If you struggle with the arms formation behind your back in the Cow Face pose, try this variation instead. 

Shoelace Pose

It’s a seated posture resembling the Cow Face pose with stacked legs, but both your arms are resting at your side, holding your feet. 

3. Supta Gomukhasana (Reclined Cow Face Pose):

If you wish to take your Gomukhasana practice even deeper, try this reclined variation. Simply lie down on your back on the yoga mat and get into the Shoelace pose. 

Supta Gomukhasana

This variation will help you get a deeper flexion in your glutes and thighs, making the blood circulate thoroughly and improving your lower body movement. 


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Level-Up Poses After Gomukhasana for Advanced Yogis

Take your Cow Face pose practice to the next level and try these advanced yoga postures after Gomukhasana: 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Shoelace Pose with Forward Bend

Level-Up Pose 2 - Cow Face Pose with Eagle Arms

Level-Up Pose 3 - Revolved Shoelace Pose

Shoelace Pose with Forward Bend

Shoelace Pose with Forward Bend

Cow Face Pose with Eagle Arms

Cow Face Pose with Eagle Arms

Revolved Shoelace Pose

Revolved Shoelace Pose

Similar Seated Poses like Gomukhasana

Take a look at these similar seated yoga poses to Gomukhasana:

  1. Dandasana (Staff Pose)

  2. Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose)

  3. Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

  4. Merudandasana (Spinal Column Pose)

  5. Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose)

Frequently Asked Questions about Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

What is the benefit of Gomukhasana?

What are the steps to do the Gomukhasana pose?

What muscles does the Gomukhasana work?

What are the different Gomukhasana preparatory poses?

Who should not do Gomukhasana?

Why is it called Cow Face Pose?

Is Gomukhasana a hip opener?

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Bina
Great 😊

Wed, Feb 28

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Jennifer
Great class! Good stretching! Feel great afterward...Read more

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Excellent class

Wed, Feb 28

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Thx for wonderful class. Enjoyed lot have a great ...Read more

Tue, Feb 27

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What a lovely beautiful session Annelise, thank yo...Read more

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Great class! Great instruction, great attention t...Read more

Wed, Feb 28

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