The Cow Face Posture or Gomukhasana is one of many yoga postures that benefits the hips, ankles, shoulders and chest; it also strengthens the core. When in proper position and using a little imagination, the knees look like a cow's closed mouth and the elbows look like ears. It works well to relieve sciatic pain, neck strain and tight shoulders. Fingers, hands and wrists also enjoy a strengthening benefit. This yoga position also helps to reduce muscle cramping and sprains by increasing overall flexibility.
Performing the Cow Face Posture
While sitting on the ground, extend both legs forward. Bend the right leg backwards and sit on the right foot. Using the hands for leverage, bend the left leg so that the left knee is over the right knee. The left heel should touch the right heel. Place the right arm behind the back with the forearm extended upward. Raise the left elbow over the shoulder with the forearm extended downward. Clasp fingers of both hands behind the shoulders. If you are unable to clasp your fingers, use a small piece of cloth to make the connection. Keep the head upright to create an effective stretch. Breathe normally and hold the position for one minute. Repeat, reversing the left and right sequence, two to three times on each side.
Beginners are sometimes unable to sit with both "sitting bones" resting evenly on the floor. Sit on a folded blanket to offer the necessary support. For a more advanced position, from the full Cow Face Posture, lean forward and lay the torso down on the inner top thigh. Hold for 20 seconds and return to the Full Cow Face Posture. If shoulder flexibility is not a problem, advance by moving the hands away from the back of the torso. Hold for 20 seconds and relax.
When properly executed, a gentle muscular stretch is felt. When done improperly, painful joints can be further challenged; this is not a wise yoga position to choose if you have chronic or severe neck, shoulder, hip or knee pain. As with all new exercise regimes, check with your health care provider before beginning.