Gomukhasana, Cow Face Pose
गोमुखासन / Gomukhāsana
Gomukhasana (goh-moo-KHA-suh-nuh) removes stiffness and pain in the hip joints and lower extremities. The position of the arms stretch the shoulders, armpits, triceps and chest, therefore relieving stiff shoulders and neck, while at the same time strengthening the back muscles and toning the arms. It also relieves sciatica by relaxing the piriformis muscles.
If you look at this pose from above, it looks like the face of a cow – the feet being the horns and the knees resembling the mouth. The cow is one of India’s holiest animals. Cows roam the streets of India, standing in the middle of the road causing traffic and yet life goes by without any complaints. The cow is considered holy because of the generousness of the cow. The cow’s urine is used as antiseptic, its dung is used to make fuel and its milk is turned into butter and ghee. The cow is also the embodiment of many yogic qualities. Cows are very peaceful and generous. This generousness of the cow is reflected in mother earth who is always providing and nurturing. The cow flows with milk at the presence of her calf. In the same way, mother earth provides for us, and as yogis we must protect and preserve her. We have to in return understand this relationship we have with the earth. We are not here to just take, but to protect and preserve for the future generation.
Avoid this pose if you have a calf muscle tear. If you have varicose veins avoid putting direct pressure on the veins; you can do the pose if the varicose veins are in the center of the calves but not if the veins are in the sides of the calves. If you’re tight in the hips, especially when the rotators are jammed, one can sit on a block or a blanket and then cross their legs and stack one knee above the other in Gomukhasana. For the arms, use a strap if the fingers don’t reach to clasp.