Gomukhasana (cow face pose) reaches into almost every part of your body for a deep stretch. You feel it most strongly in the hips, ankles, shoulders, arms, and chest. It’s a great pose to help improve posture over time and recover after sitting at a desk all day. Let’s face it, at some point we all end up slouched over our desk staring at the computer and we could use a little spine and hip love. Cow Face Pose provides that by strengthening the muscles around your spine promoting better posture while releasing the hips tension. As with all yoga poses there are modifications available to make it accessible to all bodies.
What it works:
The upper body aspect of Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) is a wonderful chest and shoulder opener. It opens the rotator cuff at the same time strengthening the back muscles. This works into the chest, deltoid, shoulders, lats (lattisimus dorsi) and triceps. It works deeply into the muscles around your hips like the Gluteus Maximius, Minimus, and Medius. It also stretches out your quadriceps which are your in the front of your thighs.
Combined with the breath this is a calming and centering pose. It’s so helpful for desk warriors sitting in front of a computer all day and is fantastic for runners.
If you have neck or should problems you should avoid this and always consult a doctor before launching into a new workout routine.
The option to take just the shoulder stretch. As much as I love the full hip opening of Cow Face Pose sometimes its too much for a beginner and sometimes you just want to stretch your shoulders after being hunched over a computer or maybe you went hard working your upper body the day before and just need a little upper body release. You can take the upper body part of the pose in Easy Pose or Virasana or even just sitting in a chair.
For those of us who have tight shoulders and can’t reach your fingers together to make the bind, use a strap or a belt. Hold it in the top hand and grab it with your bottom hand, working your hands together until you feel a stretch.
If you have knee issues, place a block under your sit bones to ease the tension on your knees. If you find kneeling like this is uncomfortable on your ankles or feet place a folded blanket under them.
- Take several long breaths here. Breath is a really important part of yoga, take your time breathing in through your nose for the count of 4, hold for 2, then breath out for 6, pausing for 2 counts before breathing back in. This calms the brain and helps breathe into the muscles.
- To release your legs by gently and slowly lean back an unfold each leg, starting with the top leg. Gently shake each leg out as you come back into Table Top.