Cow Face pose is one of the oldest poses practiced in yoga. It got its name as the shape resembles the cow’s face – the crossed legs look like the lips, and the bent arms appear as the ears.
Cow Face pose is a calm, seated pose, but it is not simple. It requires you to simultaneously work on the mobility of your chest, arms, and shoulders, as well as the legs and the hips. However, once you’re able to enter the pose with correct alignment and awareness, it becomes a fantastic way to stretch your entire body.
One of the most important benefits of the pose is its effect on posture. It helps to loosen your entire body while also allowing you to detect the symmetry of your body. This may help us improve our posture throughout the day as we become more open and more conscious of the disbalances in our bodies.
Mentioned in one of the most indispensable yoga texts, the centuries-old Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Cow Face pose is a valuable and beneficial addition to your yoga practice.
“Old yogis took a lot of inspiration from nature when they came up with first asanas or yoga postures. It’s not surprising they wanted to imitate a cow, the most sacred animal of all in Indian culture.”, says Yoga Answered contributor Sara Popovic. “Cows represented the ideal mother figure, but also higher consciousness and awakening. In a way, the still and stable nature of Cow Face pose can help us to embody the revered quiet and calm nature of the sacred animal.”
Cow Face Pose Quick Look
Sanskrit Name: Gomukhasana
Pose Type: Hip-Opening Yoga Poses, Seated Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Full body
Benefits: Cow Face pose stretches our shoulders, hips (particularly the glutes), and thighs. It will loosen up our entire body, counteracting the effect of prolonged sitting, and helping us to improve our posture. It stimulates kidney function, may relieve back pain, and help to remove blockages in the Heart, Sacral, and Root chakras.
Preparatory Poses: Bound Angle pose, Eagle pose, Butterfly pose, Easy pose, and Hero pose
How to Do Cow Face Pose Step-By-Step
- Start in Staff pose and elongate your spine. Then cross your right leg over the left, with the right heel next to your left hip, and the knees stacked on top of each other. They don’t need to be perfectly stacked – go as far as you can without feeling pain.
- Bend your left knee and bring the left heel next to the right hip.
- Make sure both hips are firmly glued to the ground and sit up.
- Then lift your right arm and rotate it, so the palm faces back.
- Bend the elbow and bring the arm behind your back, with your elbow pointing upwards and your fingers sitting at the base of your neck and pointing down.
- Then take your left arm out to the side, and bend the elbow, so that it is pointed to the ground, while the hand reaches towards the right hand.
- Try to touch the hands and clasp them if possible.
- To exit the pose, first release your arms, then your legs and return to the starting position – the Staff pose.
- Repeat on the other side.
If you can’t clasp the hands, hold a yoga strap, towel, or your top with your hands – it will extend your reach. If your hips feel tight, or you can’t keep both glutes on the floor, you can elevate yourself by sitting on a block or a pillow. If it’s hard to have both knees bent, you can keep the lower leg extended in front of you.