How to Create a Sequence around a Cow Face Pose

Gomukhasana, or Cow Face Pose, is one of those beautiful full-body postures. With a deep outer hip opener and a serious shoulder release, this powerful seated asana creates space within the body for greater flexibility and mobility all over.

Gomukhasana stretches the ankles and piriformis as well as the glutes and hips. It also extends the IT band and shoulders.

It is important to prepare your body properly for this pose. This posture is not recommended for those with severe neck, knee, or shoulder injuries.

Prepare the Arms and Shoulders

Gomukhasana, also known as the deep shoulder opener, is well-known for its depth. While this can be a wonderful practice with many benefits, for some, it may also be too extreme.

Listen to your body and know what your limits are. Use props as needed to support and aid you.

The top and bottom arms work together in Cow Face to stretch different muscle groups. Your full arm will lengthen your triceps, while your bottom arm will open your supraspinatus.

Include a variety of postures to help you practice Gomukhasana. These will focus on the external and internal rotations of the upper arms.

Begin with simple asanas in order to reduce the movement of the upper arm bones. Standing tall, your palms should be facing upwards toward the top edge of your mat. As you turn your elbows “eye” forward, notice the movement in your upper arms. This is an external rotation.

Reverse the action by bringing your palms to the front of your mat, first facing your body and then the back. Observe the movement of your upper arm as you internally rotate these bones.

Once you have mastered these basic movements and can recognize them, you will be able to incorporate them into more complicated postures.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Downward Facing Dog) is a great pose for highlighting the external rotation of the humerus bone as you roll your arms toward the outer edges of your mat. This will allow your shoulders and ears to become softer.

Pashchima Namaskarasana, or Reverse Prayer, is an excellent posture to emphasize the internal rotation of the humerus bones as you draw your palms to meet behind your back. If this posture is a bit too intense to practice, you can also take hold of opposite elbows or forearms behind your back to work the same action of your upper arms.

This reverse prayer position will also open your chest and expand it, preparing you for the peak.

Open The Hips

Gomukhasana is a deep hip opener and should be performed with comfort, control, and caution. Preparing your hips with hip openers will help you prepare for this deep stretch.

Ardha Matsyendrasana and the Marichyasana Twists are great postures that will stretch your outer hips. The One-Legged Pigeon Prep, also known as Pigeon Pose, is a wonderful exterior hip opener.

Supta or Seated Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) and Agnistambhasana (Firelog or Knee-To-Ankle Pose) are also great releases for the (often tight!) outer hips.

These hip openers are not only great hip openers, but they also prepare you for a Gomukhasana. Feel free to use props like blocks or blankets in order to deepen your stretching and optimize your physical alignment while performing these asanas.

Work to the Peak

You can then work towards your ultimate posture, full Gomukhasana.

Start by sitting on the floor and extending your legs long in front of yourself. Reach your crown of the head towards the ceiling and your tailbone the other way.

Draw your heel as close to your left hip as you feel comfortable. Stay here if this stretch is sufficient to stretch your hips.

Note: If you want a deeper opening in your hip, you can bend your left knee and bring your heel toward your right hip. It would be best if you tried to stack your knees on top of one another.

Sit up on a blanket or block to raise your hips if you feel like you need more room in your pelvis. The posture will be much easier to achieve, especially if your hips are tight.

You can stretch your arms further by taking half Cow Face Arms. Reach your right hand up to the sky, bend your elbow deeply, and walk your hand down your spine. Grab your elbow with your right hand.

You can use this hand to gently move your right arm inwards toward your midline gently and to press your head against your arm. Try to move your shoulders away from your ears.

You can stay as is, or you can let go of your left arm and internally rotate your humerus as you move your left hand as far up your spine as possible.

Additional Tips

If you have a towel or strap handy, you can use it to interlace your hands behind your back. Keep your spine long and relaxed, with your shoulders away from your ears.

Try to keep your elbow straight up and your right arm pointing upwards. Relax into the stretch and your breathing. Release and then repeat the same steps on the other side when you are ready.

Props can be a great tool to make your practice more enjoyable and accessible. Use them as much as you like. Respect your body by stopping wherever you feel appropriate on the journey to any peak position.

As you breathe and work to create space and mobility within your body, Gomukhasana is a great way to relax.

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