Master Cow Face Pose in 6 Steps

Bring awareness to patterns of breath and facilitate subtle movement in 
your shoulders, arms, hips, and legs in Cow Face Pose.
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Bring awareness to patterns of breath and facilitate subtle movement in 
your shoulders, arms, hips, and legs in Cow Face Pose.
cow face pose, gomukhasana

NEXT STEP IN YOGAPEDIA3 Ways to Modify Cow Face Pose
SEE ALL ENTRIES INYOGAPEDIA

Gomukhasana: go = cow · mukha = face · asana = pose

Benefits

Brings awareness to patterns of breath and facilitates subtle movement in your shoulders, arms, hips, and legs; encourages toning and awareness from the palate to the pelvic floor; fosters internal reflection.

Instruction

  1. From a kneeling position, cross your right leg over your left just above your left knee. Place the top of your right foot on the floor alongside your left ankle. Exhale and sit back onto your heels, keeping thighs and feet together. Bring your focus to the low belly and pelvic floor, observing the movement of the breath.
  2. Gaze gently at your knees as you place your right hand on your right knee, and your left hand on top of the right. Bring the chin toward the sternum; inhale to sit tall and straight.
  3. Release your jaw, tongue, and palate and breathe smoothly, allowing your heart to float, collarbones to broaden, and coccyx (tailbone) to drop as your low back ribs spread on the wave of the breath. Hold this form for at least 10 rounds of breath.
  4. Inhaling, lift your head and gradually tilt it back to extend the lower neck. Rotate your left shoulder forward as you reach that hand up your back with the palm facing out. On an inhale, reach up with your right arm. Bend your right elbow, drop your right arm down your back, and clasp your hands together behind your back.
  5. Now, roll the top of the left shoulder back. Point your right elbow at the ceiling and your left elbow toward the floor, and gently pull your arms in opposite directions. Drop your sitting bones toward the floor and softly squeeze your legs together to create the sense that your upper body is floating above the foundation of your legs. Breathe smoothly, softening the tongue and jaw while listening to the sound of the breath. Hold the posture for at least 5 breaths.
  6. Release the pose on an inhale. Switch the cross of your legs and repeat on the other side.

See alsoLearn more about Cow Face Pose

don't do

Don't stick out your front ribs while your hands are clasped behind your back. The hand in contact with your thoracic spine triggers a lifting of the heart and a sense of lifting and spreading in the upper back, but these sensations are lost if the front ribs jut out. Instead, focus on broadening the low back and dropping the coccyx down and forward to soften the front ribs and lift the center point of the pelvic floor.

don't do

Don’t collapse the center of your chest, which causes the entire pose to feel sunken and static. Instead, spread the collarbones and sit as if hovering above the support provided by your legs. Breathe smoothly to cultivate a sense of internal calm and stability.

About Our Pros 
Richard Freeman has been a student of yoga since 1968 and studied in India among a number of traditional lineages, which he synthesizes in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. Mary Taylor began studying yoga in 1978 and, inspired by her primary teacher, K. Pattabhi Jois, became absorbed by the practice and its transformative impact on the body and mind. Freeman and Taylor teach together throughout the world and have co-authored a new book, The Art of Vinyasa, which will be released by Shambhala Publications in December. To learn more, go to richardfreemanyoga.com.