Asanas: Practice | Gomukhasana (Cow’s Face Pose)

Most asanas can be easily categorized into specific groups such as backward bending, forward bending, spinal twist, balancing and so forth. However, some asanas don’t fit into any obvious category.

  • Gomukhasana
  • Dhanurakarshanasana
  • Baka dhyanasana

These three asanas are well worth practising for they have distinctive benefits.

Gomukhasana (Cow’s Face Pose)

In Sanskrit gomukha means ‘cow’s face’. This asana is so called because it resembles the face of a contented cow. At first this may not seem obvious, but in time you will find that the final pose does in fact seem to evoke some similarity with a cow’s face. It seems to be more of a symbolic rather than an actual resemblance.

Scriptural references

In the Gherand Samhita it says: “Place your legs on the ground so that the two feet are on either side of the back. Keep the body straight and steady so that it looks like the head of a cow. This is called gomukhasana.” (2:17)

This is a very incomplete description, and a person would not be able to practise gomukhasana without further details.

The same description, equally incomplete, is given in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Sitting position

The sitting position for gomukhasana is veerasana (hero’s pose). This is a meditative asana1. The right leg can be folded above the left or the left above the right; it does not matter.

Technique

Sit in veerasana with the right leg folded over the left leg. Make sure that the right knee is located directly above the left knee.

Hold the back straight.

Raise the right arm and place the hand over the shoulder.

Place the left arm and hand behind the back.

Try to grasp the left hand with the right hand behind the back; at first you may find this difficult, but with practise it becomes very easy.

The back of the left hand should lie in contact with the spine, while the palm of the right hand should point towards the spine.

Join the fingers of the two hands.

Hold the spine erect.

Raise the head so that it faces forwards.

Close the eyes.

This is the final pose and is shown in the above figure.

Stay in the final pose for a minute or so.

Then release the hands and straighten the legs.

Now the asana must be repeated in the opposite direction.

Fold the left leg on top of the right leg in veerasana.

Raise the left arm and place the hand over the left shoulder.

Place the right arm behind the back.

Try to join the two hands.

Straighten the back and hold the head upright.

Close the eyes and remain in the final pose for the same length of time as the other side.

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