Like most websites, our site uses cookies to provide you with the best possible experience.
You can find out more about how we use cookies here.

Posting of the Month - Gomukhasana

29 Jul 2022

Photo of Teacher Meg Laing demonstrating Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Just squeezing in to July, our Posting of the Month is from teacher Meg Laing who brings more detail and description of Gomukhasana.

Gomukhasana - Cow Face Pose


The frequent practice of Gomukhasana (Cow-face pose) is very good for the leg muscles and brings flexibility to the ankles, knees and hips as well as expanding the chest. 

Gomukhasana is well-known in its ‘arms only’ version.  This part of the pose is introduced to beginner students in Tadasana, after Urdhva Hastasana, Baddha Angulyasana, Namaskarasana and Urdhva Namaskarasana, all of which open the shoulder joints and armpit chest and extend the sides of the trunk evenly. 

The action in Gomukhasana is very different for each arm.  The upper one has to open the shoulder and armpit chest, very like the previously learned poses, but with the elbow bending to drop the hand down between the upper shoulder blades. The other arm comes up and behind the back from below, so that its hand can shake the hand of the descending arm.  



The clasp of the hands is then used to open the chest further and expand the range of breath. The two arms can be thought of as the ‘Sirsasana arm’ and the ‘Sarvangasana arm’ respectively, as the shoulder joints have to perform similar actions to what they do symmetrically in those inversions.  

These actions between them give the shoulder complex, including the shoulder blades and the armpit chest, a real work out, and help to optimise the whole range of movement available to a healthy shoulder joint.

The less well-known full Gomukhasana is a marvellous pose, and one that for me embodies the yogic principle of harmony in body, mind and breath. 

The crossing of one thigh completely above the other is not a common action in yogasanas; only the standing pose Garudhasana comes close to it. 

Rear view photo of Teacher Meg Laing demonstrating Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Side view of photo of Teacher Meg Laing demonstrating Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

In Gomukhasana, however, one is seated with the toes pointing backwards. The lower leg is the ‘anchor’ leg, with the shin and front ankle and top foot much as in Virasana. The upper leg has to negotiate the depth and width of the lower leg thigh and its hip is therefore tilted up higher than the lower leg hip. Its foot is also in front of the lower leg foot, but still has to point backwards and only the top of the foot and front ankle are able to press into the floor.

This makes everything feel uneven and the balance is sometimes precarious.

As always with such poses, the harmony and equilibrium has to come to the body by means of the breath and the mind.  

The balance of the lower body in full Gomukhasana is helped by the action of the arms. 

This is because, when the left leg is underneath, the left arm is the upper one, and when the right leg is underneath the right arm is the upper one. There is thus a crisscross action between the arms and the legs, that ‘braces’ the pose and enables the trunk to become more even. 

This allows the breathing to stabilise and quietness comes to the mind.