Go means “cow” and Mukha means “face”. In Gomukhasana, the energy channels of ha and tha are crossed, favoring the balance of the body. This posture is based on the face of the cow since the feet are in the shape of cow’s horns.
Gomukhasana Step by Step
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Your back high and straight so that you draw an angle of ninety degrees with your whole body (Dandasana).
- Bend your knees to your chest and place the soles of your feet on the floor near you. Slide your right foot under the left piece and bring your right heel to touch the side of your left gluteus. With the left leg crosses over the right leg and take your left foot to the side of the right gluteus.
- Make sure your knees are just one on top of the other as you can see in the picture. They may not be so close together or touching, but you do need to keep them one on top of the other and aligned with your navel; centered with the midline of your body.
- Sit evenly dividing the weight on both buttocks.
- In an inhalation stretch your left arm toward the side with the thumb pointing to the floor and continue to rotate the arm inwardly pointing your thumb first towards the wall behind you until you get the palm of your hand looking at the ceiling. You will notice that your shoulder will advance and will slightly round your back. When exhaling, carry the back of your left hand to the back. Try to carry it as high as possible towards space between your shoulders.
- Now take your right hand forward. With your arm fully extended, parallel to the floor and with the palm of your hand facing the ceiling. With an inhalation take your arm towards the sky, and with an exhale to bend the elbow and bring the palm of your right hand to look for the space between the shoulder blades. If possible, hook the fingers of your left hand with those of your right hand. If you need it, you can use a tape as shown in the photograph below.
- Raise your right elbow to the sky and lower your left elbow to the floor. Bring your shoulders back so that you stretch your back and expand your chest forward.
- Hold your posture for a minute and then change sides of both legs and arms.
We can breathe in two different ways. If we direct the breathing to the lower abdomen, it happens that the pelvic floor is released helping also to lighten the hips. If we hold the breath and the inspiration is directed only towards the rib cage will intensify the stretch in the pectoral area and the shoulders.
Gomukhasana Preparatory Poses
Before doing Gomukhasana, it is important to warm and open the hips with more gentle exercises. You can try the following:
- Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
- Reverse Prayer Pose (Vajrasana Paschima Namaskarasana)
You can sit on a Yoga Block in order to get more balanced in the pose.
- Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Cow Face Pose Tips for Beginners
Beginners often find it difficult to get their bones to sit evenly on the floor. You can use a blanket or a bolster to support and lift the bones while sitting.
– Use a folded blanket to sit, so that you are higher and you can sit more balanced and straight in the posture.
– If you cannot gather your hands behind your back (which is very common), use a belt that helps you open your shoulders and help your hands slowly approach with breathing.
– You can start by practicing one leg at a time. Start in the same way in Dandasana, bend your right leg and support the calf on the left leg, which is still stretched. Align the two knees. Breathe five times and change your leg.
– To deepen this posture, bring the torso to the thighs. Breathe for 30 more seconds and inhale as you climb back up.
– Another version asks us to unclasp our arms and to stretch them to the front, our hands resting on the floor, while we bow and stretch as far as possible.
Benefits of Gomukhasana
Opens the hips and sacral area, can decrease back pain, improve circulation, increase agility, release tension from the back and shoulders, stretch thighs, shoulders, and arms, improve posture, releases thighs and buttocks, decreases body temperature.
- Stretch ankles, thighs and hip
- Gives flexibility to the shoulders
- Stretch back and chest
- Prepares for other postures
- Calm the mind
Opening the hips stimulates the element of water in our body, related to the second chakra.
Water allows us to let go, to flow, to accept changes, to be receptive, to be in touch with our sensitive and creative being. The opening of the chest makes us more extensive. It also stimulates our first chakra, the connection with the earth and inner stability.
Contraindications: We will work slowly and carefully if we have serious neck or shoulder injuries.
- Baddha Konasana
- Supta Virasana
- Upavistha Konasana
- Supta Baddha Konasana
- Supta Padangusthasana
- Ardha Matsyendrasana
- Marichyasana III
Gomukhasana is very simple but very beneficial. Would you imagine that a little stretching could go a long way in healing your body, mind, and soul?