Ghomukasana (Cow Face Pose) is primarily a shoulder and hip opener, and can be quite challenging to the beginning yogi.  Let’s break it down to make it accessible.

Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Cow Face Pose (Ghomukasana)

Difficulty level: Easy/Medium


  • Opens the ankles, knees, hips, chest, shoulders

Begin in Dandasana.  Inhale, bend your left knee and place the sole of the left foot on the floor in front of you.  Draw your right foot through the arch created by your left leg, placing the right foot close to your left hip.  The right foot should be on the outside knife edge of the foot.  Lift your left foot over your right thigh, placing the outer knife edge of the left foot close to your right hip.  Draw the feet either forward or back from the hips until they are equidistant from the hips.

With the knees stacked on top of each other, place your hands in the soles of your feet.  Press firmly into the soles of your feet as you lift through the crown of the head, tucking the rib points in, and pressing evenly down through both hips.

Stretch your right arm out in front of you with the palm of the hand facing the ground.  Use your left hand under your right tricep to press the right arm vertical (close to your head); when you have full extension of the arm overhead, rotate the palm to face your back.  Bend your right arm, reaching as far down your back as possible.

Extend your left arm out at shoulder height parallel to the floor, with the palm facing down.  Rotate your hand so the thumb points to the floor.  Maintaining that rotation of the left hand, draw your left arm as far behind your back as possible, THEN bend the elbow, reaching up your back.

If able, rolling the shoulder blades firmly onto the back, clasp the fingers of opposite hands together.  Continue lifting through the crown of your head, pressing the right elbow vertical and your left elbow towards the floor.  Lift your gaze parallel to the floor, tuck your rib points, and press down through your sit bones.  Hold this for several breaths, then gently unwind the arms and legs, returning to Dandasana

Variation:  If your fingers do not reach each other behind your back, use a strap to extend your arms, making the full shoulder benefits of the pose accessible.  Place a strap across (front to back) the right shoulder.  As you bend and reach each arm up the back, grasp the strap.  Inch your fingers along the strap, until eventually they are able to meet.  Remember to left through the crown of the head, tuck your rib points, and press through the sit bones to the mat.  Hold this for several breaths, then slowly unwind on the exhale, returning to Dandasana.

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