Pose Library

Gomukhasana: Give it your all

Pronounced: go-mook-HAS-uh-nuh

Cow Face Pose

From the Sanskrit “go” meaning “cow,” and “mukha,” meaning “face,” Gomukhasana invites us to playfully place our bodies in a shape that resembles the face of a cow. If you’re having trouble seeing it, picture the arms as ears, the belly button as the nose, and the legs as the mouth. While it feels like Cow Face Pose takes everything we have (namely our hips, shoulders, and core), it also gives back so much of what we need.

The aspects of life that we value most—our careers, families, romantic partnerships, friendships, and creative endeavors—all require tremendous output. But the things that deplete us and those that fill us up are not always what we might think! Sometimes you’ll find that your career is totally energizing, while some friendships leave you feeling drained. And a family “obligation” can be so rewarding, while a creative project can quickly turn into a drag. Cow Face Pose reminds us that the most fulfilling parts of life usually take effort and determination. And “giving it all” doesn’t mean you’ll end up empty. It’s often the best way to feel more full. 

How to practice Gomukhasana

  1. From Sukasana (Seated Cross Legs), begin with your right shin on top of the left.  Draw your right leg towards the left so your right knee ends up lining up with the midline of the body.  Move your left leg to the right, so your knees end up stacking on top of each other (or as close as is possible). 
  2. Move your feet out to the sides so your sit bones are even on the floor and your feet hug the outsides of your hips. Sit tall.
  3. Take your right arm down and back behind you, reaching your right hand to the left side.
  4. Raise your left arm up and over your head, bending at the left elbow so your left hand “pats you on the back” behind your head and eventually neck (or at least heading that way).
  5. Clasp your hands together.  If you can’t do this (most people cannot), grab a strap between your hands.  Hold for 5-10 breaths. Release. Repeat side 2.

Modifications and Variations

Cow Face Pose can be modified in several ways.  One way is to skip the arm variation and simply place your arms by your sides. Another, as stated above, is to make sure to have a strap between your hands. A third option is to place a cushion or folded blankets under your sit bones to soften the intensity in the hips. A common variation of the pose is to sustain the arm bind and fold forward, or simply fold forward without the arm bind for less shoulders and more hips.

Contraindications

Those that have hip, lower back, or shoulder issues should practice with caution or simply practice Sukasana (Seated Cross Legs) instead.

If you like Cow Face Pose or Jo Tastula, we suggest:

Upper Body Opening Flow with Jo Tastula
Vinyasa Flow – 30 min

Gomukhasana Go Time! with Giselle Mari
Vinyasa Flow – 45 min

Supine Gomukhasana to Release the Hips with Felicia Tomasko
Yin – 5 min

Fly Like an Eagle with Giselle Mari
Vinyasa Flow – 45 min

Open Your Wings with Tara Judelle
Hatha – 45 min

Pose Library

Virabhadrasana I: What in your life is worth fighting for?

Pronounced: VEER-uh-bhah- DRAH-suh-nuh Warrior Pose, First Variation Have you ever wondered, “If yoga is meant to help me be more peaceful, what’s with all the ‘warrior’ poses?” Well, there are actually many reasons, but for now, let’s go back…

There's a Class for That

A full day of renewal, on us

This month we’ve been talking about the September Scaries—that nagging feeling at the end of summer when you realize that your chance to have the perfect beach vacation, get in shape, get your errands done, “Marie Kondo” your home,…

Cultural Moments

The September Scaries

Back to school.  No matter how old we get, we still feel a wave of anxiety when we hear this phrase. Though we’re no longer headed back to pencils and books, that crushing feeling at the onset of September…