Gomukhasana (Gaumukh aasan) is an ancient yoga pose. It is a seated yoga pose used as an exercise. Its immense popularity is due to its multiple health benefits. It is also used for meditation, but very rarely. This pose has been practiced traditionally for more than two thousand years.
|Gomukhasana (gaumukh aasan)
|Cow Face Pose
Classic Yoga Texts
|Cow Face Pose
The term Gomukhasana is the combination of three Sanskrit words: Go, Mukha, and Asana. Go means cow. Mukha means mouth. But in Tamil, Mukha means Face. Asana means Pose. Hence it means Cow Face Pose.
On perfect performance, the pose looks like the face or mouth of a cow, especially the crossed legs look like the mouth of a cow. This is why this posture is called Cow-Face-Pose.
Gomukhasana step-by-step procedure
Safety and Precautions
It is contraindicated in conditions like lumbago, hernia, pregnancy, and cervical spondylosis.
In Cow Face Pose, the muscles around the knees are stretched. Hence those who are having ailments in the knee should avoid this posture.
Furthermore, In Cow Face Pose, the muscles around the knees are stretched. Hence those who are having ailments in the knee also should avoid this posture.
If you have any injury or disorder of the shoulder or neck or back, you should avoid Cow Face Pose.
- Sit with your legs stretched out
- Bend the left leg and bring the foot under the right hip
- Bend the right leg over the left leg and draw it towards the left hip
- Keep the right knee on the left one
- Without raising, bend the left hand behind and bring the palm up
- Raise the right hand, bend down to reach the left palm, and clasp
- Hold it in that position and close your eyes
- Breath slowly. Sit in this position to the extent possible
Cow Face Pose Duration
The modern version of Cow Face Pose is not suitable for meditation. This is because we could not extend the duration for longer periods. Two to three minutes is enough. For beginners, it may be around 30 seconds to one minute.
Most of the benefits of Cow Face Pose are due to its arm position. In the beginning, it is not easy to place the palms as prescribed. If it is not possible, just try. If you keep on trying to catch and hold another hand with one hand, you can get mastery in due course.
For most people, it is easier to place the right hand at the top and the left hand below. If you use them on the opposite side, it will be harder. Hence, start placing the right hand at the top and the left hand below. Once you get perfection, then try with the left hand at the top and right hand below.
For those who could not place the hands as above for any reason, they can simply clasp the palms and place them over the knee (top). Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the most popular medieval Hatha Yoga text, did not insist on placing the arms behind. It simply describes Cow Face Pose as below.
Place the left ankle on the right side and right ankle on the left side. This makes Gomukhāsana that appears like a cow.Hatha Yoga Pradipika Verse 1.22
Also, Gheranda Samhita, yet another Hatha Yoga text, did not speak about the arm positions.
Place the feet on the ground in such a way that both heels are under the opposite side of the buttocks. Keep the body steady, the mouth raised, and sit equally. This is Gomukhāsana that resembles the mouth of a cow.Gheranda Samhita 2.16
Moreover, the classical version of Cow Face Pose as described in the yoga texts is ideal for meditation.
The common mistake done by many practitioners is keeping the same knee on the top. If you have kept the right knee on the top one time, the next time you change it to the left one. Likewise, you should change the hand position also.
Beginners especially those who have tight shoulders or who are obese should not overdo while clasping the palms behind the back. Rather, they may use a strap until they get perfection.
If needed, one may use a folded blanket or cushion for sitting bones or knees.
Advance Pose Considerations
After getting mastery over this pose, one may attempt Baddha Gomukhasana (Bound Cow Face Pose), a harder variation than plain Cow Face Pose.
Gomukhasana Preparatory Poses
To learn easily and to get perfection in this pose, one should practice the following preparatory poses.
- Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
- Virasana (Hero Pose)
- Vajrasana (Diamond Pose)
- Padangusthasana (Hand to Big Toe Pose)
However, the classical version of Cow Face Pose can be performed for longer periods which can be up to three hours.
Gomukhasana Follow-up Poses
After performing the practice of Cow Face Pose, one should resort to the practice of any one of the poses mentioned below.
The following poses belong to the group Cow Face Pose.
- Vajra Gomukhasana (Diamond Cow Face Pose)
- Mahvajra Gomukhasana (Great Diamond Cow Face Pose)
- Hasta Gomukhasana (Hand Cow Face Pose)
- Baddha Gomukhasana (Bound Cow Face Pose)
The following benefits of Cow Face Pose are the reasons for its immense popularity.
- The Pose gives flexibility to ankles, knees, thigh muscles, hips, shoulder joints, armpit, and arm joints.
- It stretches and tones up the muscles of the chest.
- This pose enhances renal activity.
- It is good for Type II diabetes.
- This posture prevents and helps in conditions of sexual disorders
- It helps in the conditions of lower back issues like sciatica
- This pose can be used for Meditation and also
- It activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System and helps drive out stress and anxiety.
- Cow Face Pose is good for conditions like stiff shoulders and frozen arms.
Gomukhasana Frequently Asked Questions
The opt time for its practice is early morning when the stomach is empty. Another suitable time is the evening before dinner.
It stretches the upper arms namely the Deltoid, Biceps, and Triceps. It also stretches the hamstring and quadriceps muscles in the leg. Muscles of the hips and chest are also stretched a bit.
It cannot be used as a treatment modality, though the practice can serve as a supportive therapy. Regular practice can improve the quality of life and pulmonary functions.
It is pronounced as go-moo-KAHS-anna.
Yes. It is beneficial. It drives the stiffness away and makes the shoulders more flexible.