Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose is an asana. Sanskrit: गोमुखासन; Go – Cow, Mukha – Face, Asana – Pose; Pronounced As: go-moo-KAHS-anna
This asana takes its name from the Sanskrit words ‘Go’, meaning cow, ‘Mukha’, meaning face, and ‘Asana’, meaning pose. Incidentally, the word ‘Go’ also means light.
So ‘Gomukh’ can also mean lightness of the head or light in the head. However, this asana gets its name because when one is performing this asana, the body resembles a cow’s face. The thighs and calves are placed in such a way that they are wide at one end and tapering at the other.
Everything You Need To Know About The Gomukhasana
- What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
- How To Do The Gomukhasana
- Precautions And Contraindications
- Beginner’s Tips
- Advanced Pose Variations
- Benefits Of The Cow Face Pose
- The Science Behind The Gomukhasana
- Preparatory Poses
- Follow-Up Poses
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
It is best if the Gomukhasana is performed first thing in the morning. Its benefits are numerous. Your stomach and bowels must be empty when you practice this asana. Make sure you have your meals at least 10 to 12 hours before your practice.
- Level: Basic
- Style: Vinyasa
- Duration: 30 to 60 Seconds
- Repetition: Once with your right leg over the left and then vice versa
- Stretches: Shoulders, Hip, Thighs, Thorax, Ankles, Triceps brachii muscle, Axilla
- Strengthens: Back, Chest
How To Do Gomukhasana
- Sit erect on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Now gently bend your left leg, and place it under your right buttock.
- Fold your right leg and place it over your left thigh.
- Place both your knees close together as they are stacked one on top of the other.
- Gently fold your left arm and place it behind your back.
- Take your right arm over your right shoulder, and stretch it as much as you can until it reaches your left hand. With practice, you will be able to not just reach, but also catch your left hand.
- Keep the trunk erect, expand your chest, and lean slightly back.
- Hold this pose for as long as you are comfortable, as you breathe slowly and deeply. Concentrate on your breathing.
Precautions And Contraindications
There are some points of caution that you must keep in mind before you practice this asana.
- People suffering from shoulder, neck, and knee pains must refrain from practicing this asana. If you suffer from backaches, it is best to consult a doctor before you do this asana, and practice only under the supervision of a certified yoga instructor.
- If you have tight shoulders and fail to clasp your fingers behind your back, use a strap between your hands. Start the pose with a strap draped over the shoulder of the lower arm. Slide the lower arm to the back (you must ensure that you slide your arm as much to the top of the back as possible), then catch the free end of the strap with the upper arm.
- In case you are fat or obese, performing this exercise might be difficult. But don’t fret. Instead, start small. You can begin by trying to take your hands backward (you don’t have to clasp the fingers), and simply stretching your legs and crossing one over the other. With time and patience, you will be able to perform the pose perfectly as it makes your body flexible and easy to stretch.
Beginners usually find it difficult to get their sitting bones to rest evenly on the floor. This makes stacking the knees evenly over each other quite difficult. The spine cannot extend itself properly when the pelvis is tilted. So use a blanket or bolster to support and lift the sitting bones.
Advanced Pose Variations
To increase the stretch in this pose, you must have flexible shoulders. Just move your hands a little away from the back of the torso. From the full pose by leaning forward and laying your torso on the inner part of the thigh on top. Hold the pose for at least 20 seconds, and inhale as you come up.
Benefits Of The Cow Face Pose
These are some amazing benefits of Gomukhasana.
- This asana helps to flex the back, making it more elastic.
- It helps to cure stiff shoulders and also helps reduce backaches.
- Practicing the Gomukhasana also aids in the treatment of sciatica.
- It enhances the working of the kidneys, thereby helping those suffering from diabetes.
- It also works the chest muscles and helps in treating sexual ailments.
- Practicing this asana regularly can reduce stress and anxiety.
The Science Behind The Gomukhasana
This asana involves your shoulders and hips, both of which are common sites that house tension and chronic pain. This asana, quite prominently, enhances the range of motion in the shoulder joints. Even if you have tight shoulders, and you continue practicing this asana, in a span of a few months, your shoulders will loosen out. This asana is therapeutic and helps in pressure release.
Gomukhasana, or the Cow Face Pose, relaxes the muscles and imparts a sense of calm. When you attempt to pull your hands in this pose, the tension in the muscle-tendon joints of your body gets escalated. In response to this tension, the spinal cord signals the muscles to relax. The ‘stretch’ this pose creates (like most other yoga poses) results in the release of endorphins that induce a feeling of relaxation within your body and mind (1).
In a study conducted at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, it was found that Hatha yoga (of which Gomukhasana is a part) can enhance cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength (2).
This asana is extremely simple, yet extremely beneficial. Who could have imagined that a little stretching could go a long way in healing your body, mind, and soul?
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