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Feature Pose: Cow-Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Sanskrit: Gomukhasana (pronounced Go-Moo-Khas-Ana)

Translation: Cow-Face Pose

If you can’t see the cow in this image, look again. The crossed legs are the lips and the upper elbow is a bent ear. Still can’t see it? Don’t worry, it’s fuzzy for me, too. Truth be told, as much as I love this gentle being, I don’t really aspire to look like one. Ego afflictions aside, though, the cow is a sacred animal in India, making it an obvious inclusion in the vast repertoire of classical yoga poses. Let’s explore!

How to Get into the Pose

Taking the basic shape of this posture requires flexibility through the hips and shoulders. There are a few ways to enter Gomukhasana, but I find this one slightly easier than the others. Have a yoga block or similar solid prop (like a thick book) handy.

The Bottom Half, Your Hips

Step 1 Come to your hands and knees in Table Pose.

Step 2 Cross the right knee behind the left one, and allow your feet to splay wide apart.

Step 3 With your block readily accessible, walk your hands back a few inches towards your feet, and take the block and place it in the space between your legs.

Step 4 Continue walking back with your hands until you’re effectually sitting ON the yoga block.

Step 5 As you come seated upright, nestle your sitting bones downwards into your support. Take take the weight out of your hands and rest them on the thighs. NOW: if this is comfortable, if you have no knee pain and the hips aren’t screaming, you can probably do the posture without the support of a block. In this case, shift your weight forward, set the block aside, and return to an upright position, sitting bones nestling into the earth.

The Top Half, Your Shoulders

Step 1 Because you crossed your right leg behind (Step 2), your left knee is on top. In this case, we want the opposite arm, your right one, overhead. Reach your left arm out to the side (not in front) and turn your thumb towards the floor, inwardly rotating the shoulder.

Step 2 Slide the arm behind your back, and begin to nudge your hand upwards along the spine towards the shoulder blades, tucking your elbow in tight to your ribs. Eventually the hand will rest in the space between the blades, with your baby finger parallel to the outer torso.

Step 3 Keeping the bottom hand in place, reach your right arm forward, palm facing up.

Step 4 Raise your arm overhead before bending the elbow to place your hand between the shoulder blades. Work the bottom hand up the length of your spine, while actively lifting the elbow to guide your upper hand down the spine. See if you can clasp your fingers. This requires tremendous shoulder flexibility! Patiently breathe into areas of resistance as your body opens up in its own time.

Tip: Gomukhasana is an excellent stretch for both the hips and shoulders, honing mobility while challenging your capacity to focus the mind. If you want to go further, lean forward to bring your upper chest against the thighs while keeping your hands clasped behind your back.

Step 5 Sit back into the posture, spine upright, crown of the head reaching heavenwards, back of the head pressing against the forearm. Root down through the sitting bones, allowing the heart centre to rise on inhalation and shoulders to soften as you exhale.

Step 6 Exit the pose mindfully. Slowly release your arms and lean forward into Table Pose.

Step 7 Uncross your legs and step back into Downward Dog, shifting the hips and pedalling the heels, before returning to hands and knees for Gomukhasana on the other side.

Modify: A yoga strap (a dress tie, rope, or even a long sock) works well here to “increase the length of the arms,” allowing your fingers to grip while you work on increasing mobility in the deltoids.

Tip: If you are somewhere between needing a block and going prop-free, fold a blanket and place it under your hips. Then, adjust the height as needed.

Note: Try to keep your feet equidistant from the hips, weighting down evenly through the sitting bones and pelvis. When the hips aren’t open enough, the knees will often sit on top of each other unevenly. This tilts the pelvis and disables the spine from extending fully. Using a blanket or block will help counter the imbalance.


Gomukhasana shows up in bits and pieces in Bliss 4 Hips on Thursday nights. If you're new to Eryn's Yoga, sign up for your 7-Day Free Trial and join us!


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