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
- 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).
- 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.
- Take your right arm down and back behind you, reaching your right hand to the left side.
- 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).
- 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.
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: