Nowadays, your busy routine requires you to sit static for hours, leading to acquire mental pressure, physical strain, and stiffness. For this reason, Yoga is popularly known and widely used to provide flexibility, strength, and relaxation to your body and muscles. One of these yoga poses, the cow face pose, is helps relax your body and muscles.
If you are unfamiliar with the cow face pose, this article has everything you need to know related to it, including how it is done, its variations, and benefits as well.
What is Cow Face Pose?
The term ‘cow face pose’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Gomukhasana’; ‘Go’ in Sanskrit means cow, ‘Mukh’ means the face, and ‘Asana’ means pose. This pose is called Gomukhasana or cow face because it requires you to fold your legs one on the other, resembling a cow’s mouth, while you bend your elbows behind your back and hold hands, making your elbows resembling a cow’s ears.
The cow face pose effectively stretches your body, including your elbows, knees, legs, waist, arms, back, and thighs. This specific pose allows you to ease your body’s stiffness by accessing its symmetry. You can quickly notice your body’s stiffness or relaxation when you cross one leg on the other or bend one elbow upwards and the other downwards.
Through your arm and elbow’s position, you can quickly assess if one of the arms is tighter or stiffer than the other. The same goes for legs and knees, which you can assess by crossing your left leg on top of the right one or vice versa.
Besides your legs and elbows, you can also enhance and improve your back and neck’s position, and also reduce their stiffness. Stretching your arms and bringing them close to your face, you can practice stretching and bending your neck and head to one side as much as possible.
Make sure to keep your spine straight as much as possible to relieve strains or muscle stiffness in the back or neck. However, if you experience shoulder tightness and can’t effectively clasp your fingers together at the back, you can even use a strap or a prop to help you.
Significant Benefits of the Cow Face Pose
The cow face pose is known for opening your hip and shoulder muscles while putting pressure on your spine and lower back. Depending on the regular cow face pose or any variation that you choose to follow, it provides excellent stretching to each of your body parts while relaxing muscles and nerves to a great extent.
Inhaling and exhaling deeply during the cow face pose not only provides you physical relief and mental peace by focusing on your body and mind in the most unusual posture. For more reference, here are some significant cow face pose benefits:
- The pose elongates your spine
- It reduces pain caused by sciatica
- It loosens and relaxes your stiff shoulders
- It is highly beneficial if you have a bad posture
- Massages and tones your reproductive organs when practiced regularly
- Relieves hypertension
- Calms anxiety and stress
- Strengthens muscles of the back, thighs, hips, ankles, inner armpits, triceps, chest, and shoulder joints
- Stimulates kidney functioning
- helps in decompression of the lower spine
- helps in chronic pains related to the knee, ankles, hips, and spine
- Strengthens hip joints
Step-By-Step Instructions for Cow Face Pose
Given the flexibility and posture that the cow face pose requires, this pose is anything but easy. This pose is not your regular yoga pose but offers excellent muscle and joint stimulation. It is a great way to improve your breathing pattern, relax your mind and relieve your body of any pressures, strains, and stiffness.
If you are a beginner to yoga or have never earlier tried a cow face pose during your yoga session, here is a step-by-step instruction guide on how you can achieve this pose and relax your body:
- For the initial start, you need to sit on the floor with your legs stretched straight; this pose is called the Staff pose or Dandasana.
- Now cross your right leg above your left leg while adjoining or stacking your knees, one above the other. Stretch your leg, so your right knee faces the outside of your left hip side.
- Repeat this bending process with your right leg now, stretching it to the same extent that each heel faces the opposite side’s hip.
- When your knees are in the center and stacked, press down gently on your sitting bones, to acquire a comfortable but even position.
- Now elongating your spine, lift your lower back out.
- Inhaling deeply, position your right arm on your side and stretch it, so the palm of your hand faces back, pointing your thumb downwards.
- Now exhaling and bending your elbow, bring the right arm behind your back, while the palm of your hand facing out and pull your upper arm close to your body. This way, your elbow should point towards your sacrum and your fingers should point towards the base of your neck.
- Now inhaling deeply again, take your left arm to the side and stretch it up to the ceiling while your hand is facing the midline.
- Now bend your left elbow while reaching down towards your neck. Bring your elbow as close to your face as possible while positioning it towards the ceiling while your hand is positioned down to your spine.
- Reach and find your hands until they touch. Clasp your fingers or hands to strengthen and support each elbow and arm.
- When exiting this pose, exhale and release your fingers carefully stretching out your arms again to your sides and returning to the staff pose.
- Repeat the exact process, starting with the opposite side now.
Variations in Cow Face Pose
Reading out all the step-by-step instructions, if you think the cow face pose is challenging and intense for you to achieve, you are certainly not alone. As the cow face pose not only stretches your whole body but also opens your shoulder joints, arms, hips, chest, and glutes.
This pose is not easy as it requires a lot of practice, patience, and experimentation to get it right. While tricky, this pose offers excellent strength and relaxation to your tight and stiff muscles while stimulating your joints.
Here are some of the widely used cow face pose variations that you can try to ease your intensity while striking the perfect cow face pose:
1. Shoelace Cow Face Pose
In the primary cow face pose, you need to cross your legs, resting each knee on the other while facing each heal to the opposite side of the hip. Then positioning your legs and knees accurately, focus on your lower body by resting each of your hands on each foot.
This will provide stress and focus on your lower body, including your lower back, hips, knees, legs, and ankles. You can stay in this position and inhale//exhale three to four times.
However, if you need to go deeper in this position, or want more flexibility and strengthening, you can also fold forward while resting your forehead on your knee. You can even use a stacked fist or a block to rest your forehead on it.
2. Twisted Cow Face Pose
Following the standard cow face pose, when you twist and place your legs one on top of the other, twist in the direction of the leg on the top. For example, if you have placed your right leg on top of your left leg, you need to twist in the right direction.
Twist from your navel and rest your left forearm on your right leg or thigh. At the same time, place the right hand on your back so you can put pressure on your body and twist it adequately to relieve any strain or tension in your muscles.
When wanting to unwind from this side, move slowly to unwind to avoid straining your back with quick movements. Repeat this process with the other side now.
3. Eagle Arms Cow Face Pose
This variation pose also requires you to first be in the staff pose, then cross your legs, stacking the right knee on top of your left knee. Inhaling, now extend your arms out on your sides to form a ‘T’ shape.
Now swing your right arm, placing it under your left arm, and press your forearms together, so they are perpendicular to the floor. Press your palms together, or you can even grab your opposite wrist with one hand.
Move your shoulders down towards your back while lifting your elbows a bit higher. If this elbow position seems a bit overwhelming, you can stretch your arms crossed and place your palms on your shoulders, like giving a big hug to yourself. Repeat the same with the opposite side as well now.
4. Reclined Cow Face Pose
This variation could be the trickiest, most rewarding, and most flexible of all cow face pose variations. For this pose, you must lie down on your back and cross your legs by having your right knee over your left knee.
Inhale deeply and grasp your opposite ankles with each hand, for example, left ankle with your right hand and vice versa. Exhale and now draw your feet to the floor while turning to each side of your waist one by one. Unwind carefully and repeat the posture with the opposite side now.
These variations might seem tricky to you at first, but with patience and practice, you can easily try and follow these variations regularly. Even if you are not having any major problems with any cow face pose, you should try different variations regularly to focus on each aspect of your body and provide relaxation.
Modifications in Cow Face Pose
Although a yoga mat is the first yoga accessory you will need for a cow face pose, you can still require a few modifications to ease your balance and posture. If you feel the floor digging into your hip bones or buttocks, you can use a blanket under your buttocks to make the pose more comfortable.
In the same way, if placing your twisted ankles on the floor can cause too much stretching, you can use blocks to place under your ankles or knees to lessen some pressure and overexertion. You can use any prop or material to level your balance during the pose to enjoy an even posture.
If you also find twisting your arms too much or clasping your fingers or hands together at the back, you can use a strap to join hands rather than putting too much stress on your arms. Once you are habitual of the pose and can easily maintain the posture, you can try reaching out to clasp fingers and hands together.
Contradictions of Cow Face Pose
Despite its numerous benefits, if you have any chronic pain or ongoing mental ailments, it is always better to consult your physician before adding the cow face pose to your yoga session.
The reason is that some medical conditions can get aggravated by the cow face pose, leading to more strains and muscle tension in rare cases. Here are some of the medical conditions in which you should consult with your physician first before performing the cow face pose in Yoga:
- Shoulder pain or chronic injury. While the cow face pose is beneficial for mild pains and muscle strains, if you have experienced a shoulder injury before or experienced severe pain in the shoulders, it is best to consult with your physician or perform a cow face pose with a trained yoga instructor’s presence.
- Soft tissue or leg injury is damage to ligaments, muscles, and tendons due to a severe strain or sprain.
- Heavy or extreme pain in any of your body parts or muscle.
- Bleeding hemorrhoids are also known as piles.
- Pain or muscle tears in both or even one thigh.
- Arthritis in the spine is also known as Spondylitis.
Related Questions Regarding Cow Face Pose
The increasing popularity of Yoga and cow face pose due to its many benefits has also led to many related questions regarding cow face pose and its mechanism. Here are some of the most popular questions:
What is Cow Face Pose, and how it’s done?
Cow face pose is a silent and calming yoga posture that lets you relax your mind and body by inhaling and exhaling deeply while placing your knees on the other and twisting your shoulders in various positions.
Who is the most suitable person to perform Cow Face Pose?
Any person wanting mental peace and muscle relaxation can add the cow face pose to their yoga sessions. There is no such age, gender, or other specific limitations to performing cow face pose yoga.
When should I Avoid Cow Face Pose?
Suppose you have undergone an injury or experienced a severe medical ailment, such as hemorrhoids, muscle injury, or knee or shoulder injury. In that case, you should first consult with your physician before starting cow face pose yoga.
What are the benefits of Cow Face Pose?
Apart from proving mental peace, the cow face pose also provides many medical and physical benefits such as relieving muscle strains, strengthening bones and joints of shoulders and hips, providing spinal longevity, and aiding hypertension and kidney issues.
Can I add Variations to Cow Face Pose?
Yes, adding variations in the cow face pose that we have also discussed above is certainly possible. You can twist your arms and knees to your convenience, keeping well in mind that every variation should provide flexibility and optimum muscle stretch to your body.
Cow face pose is a great yoga posture that benefits you relieve muscle tension and strains by focusing and exerting pressure on your lower and upper body simultaneously. Stacking your knees one over the other and twisting your arms and elbows at your back stretches your spine while putting equal pressure on all sides and parts of your body.
In this article, we have briefed about the cow face pose, its benefits, a step-by-step guide to do it, its variations, and how we should avoid it under which circumstances.