How To Do Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Cow Face Pose, or Gomukhasana in Sanskrit, is a powerful yoga posture that can help you find freedom and release tension in your shoulders, hips, and spine. As someone who has struggled with tightness and discomfort in these areas myself, I have found this pose to be incredibly helpful in cultivating openness and ease.

When we practice Cow Face Pose, we create space between the shoulder blades and the upper back while also stretching the outer hips. This can be especially beneficial for those of us who spend long periods sitting at a desk or driving a car.

By releasing tension and increasing mobility in these areas of the body, we can experience greater physical comfort and mental clarity throughout our day.

So if you’re ready to explore this transformative posture, let’s dive into some tips for practicing Cow Face Pose safely and effectively!


Cow Face Pose – Step-by-step Instructions

Here are the steps to perform the asana:

  1. Start by sitting on your mat with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet on the mat, hip-width apart.
  3. Slide your left foot under your right leg, bringing it towards your right hip. Your left knee should be pointing forward, and your left heel should be outside of your right hip.
  4. Cross your right leg over your left, bringing your right knee towards your left hip. Stack your right knee directly on top of your left knee, if possible. Your right foot should be outside of your left hip.
  5. Adjust your sitting bones so that you are sitting evenly on both buttocks.
  6. Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and gently twist your torso to the right, bringing your left hand to your right knee.
  7. Keep your left hand on your right knee, or if it feels comfortable, you can wrap your left arm behind your back and reach for your right hand.
  8. Inhale and lift through your chest, finding length in your spine. Exhale and gently deepen the twist, rotating your torso to the right.
  9. Lift your right arm up towards the ceiling, reaching it overhead. If possible, try to bring your right hand towards the center of your upper back.
  10. Keep your gaze forward or towards the right, depending on your neck flexibility.
  11. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 30-60 seconds, or as long as you feel comfortable.
  12. To release the pose, gently unwind your arms and legs and come back to a neutral seated position.
  13. Repeat the pose on the opposite side, crossing your legs in the opposite configuration.


  • If your hips feel tight, you can sit on a folded blanket or cushion to elevate your hips and make the pose more accessible.
  • If your hands cannot reach each other, you can use a strap or towel to hold onto and create a connection between your hands.
  • Focus on maintaining an upright posture and lengthening through your spine throughout the pose.
  • Avoid forcing yourself into a deep twist. Listen to your body and only go as far as feels comfortable for you.
  • Regular practice can help open the hips, shoulders, and chest, as well as improve spinal flexibility.
  • Seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor if you have any specific concerns or limitations.

7 Benefits Of Cow Face Pose

This asana is a seated yoga posture that offers numerous benefits for the body, mind, and overall well-being. Here is a list of the benefits:

  1. Hip Opening: Gomukhasana provides a deep stretch to the hips, particularly the outer hip and gluteal muscles. Regular practice of this pose can help improve hip flexibility and mobility.
  2. Shoulder Opening: Stretching and opening the shoulders, specifically the deltoids, triceps, and rotator cuff muscles. It helps release tension in the shoulders and upper back, promoting better posture and reducing discomfort.
  3. Chest Expansion: As the arms are positioned in a bind behind the back, Gomukhasana promotes opening and expanding of the chest. This can help counteract the effects of rounded shoulders and improve lung capacity.
  4. Improved Spinal Alignment: This pose encourages an upright and aligned posture, helping to lengthen and straighten the spine. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals who sit for long periods, as it counteracts the tendency to slouch and promotes a healthy posture.
  5. Increased Flexibility in Arms and Shoulders: Regular practice can improve flexibility in the arms, shoulders, and upper back. It stretches and strengthens the muscles in these areas, enhancing overall range of motion.
  6. Relieves Tension and Stress: Gomukhasana helps release tension and stress stored in the shoulders, neck, and upper back. The combination of stretching and deep breathing promotes relaxation and a sense of calmness.
  7. Enhances Concentration and Focus: The focus required to achieve and maintain the bind in this pose can help improve concentration and mental focus. It cultivates mindfulness and brings awareness to the present moment.

As with any yoga pose, it’s important to practice mindfully and within your own comfort and range of motion. If you have any specific health concerns or conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional before attempting Gomukhasana or any other yoga practice.

Cowface Yoga Pose / Canva

Beginner Tips

To get into this pose, begin by sitting on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Next, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat. Bring one foot under the opposite leg so that it touches the outer hip.

Then, slide the other foot over top of the opposite knee and rest it beside the hip. You should now be sitting cross-legged with one knee stacked on top of the other.

Take a few deep breaths here and then repeat on the opposite side for balance.

Regular yoga practice will help you gradually deepen this stretch in this pose while also providing counter poses to keep you balanced physically and mentally.

With consistent effort and patience towards improving flexibility through regular stretching exercises like these ones, you can safely improve overall joint mobility throughout different parts of the body!

Precautions to Take Before Attempting the Pose

Before attempting this posture, it’s important to take some precautions to avoid any injuries or strains. As with any yoga pose, it’s essential to listen to your body and not push beyond your limits.

Did you know that around 70% of yoga-related injuries occur in the upper extremities? To prevent injury when practicing, here are a few precautions to keep in mind:

1. Warm-up: Before attempting the pose, spend some time warming up your shoulders and arms properly. Start by gently rolling your shoulders forward and backward, then rotate your arms at the shoulder joint.

2. Use Props: If you have tight shoulders or limited mobility in your shoulder joints, use props like a strap or block for support.

3. Keep Your Spine Straight: When performing the seated Yoga posture, make sure to keep your spine straight throughout the exercise.

By taking these precautions before starting, you’ll be able to reduce the risk of injury and enjoy all its benefits safely.

Now that we’ve discussed how important it is to take necessary precautions before practicing Gomukhasana, let’s move on to common mistakes and contraindications related to this pose.

Yoga Pose Cowface / Canva
Yoga Pose Cowface

 Gomukhasana – Common Mistakes and Contraindications

It’s essential to be aware of common mistakes and contraindications that could hinder your progress when performing. As a yoga practitioner, I’ve seen many yogis struggle with this pose due to incorrect alignment or physical limitations.

One mistake I often observe is students trying to force their hands into position behind their back when they can’t reach. Instead, bend the elbow of the arm that is reaching up towards the ceiling and bring your hand down between your shoulder blades. Then, take your other hand and reach it behind your back, aiming to touch fingers or clasp hands together.

Another common mistake is rounding the spine as you fold forward. To keep your spine straight, sit on a block or folded blanket if you need extra support. Additionally, ensure both sitting bones are grounded evenly onto the floor. Avoid collapsing one hip towards the ground.

Finally, if you experience pain around your knee joint or have a recent knee injury, modify the pose. By placing a blanket under the foot that is being crossed over outside of your left thigh.

Once you have mastered these adjustments and feel comfortable, you can explore variations to make the pose more accessible. Without sacrificing proper alignment and form.

Variations to Make the Pose More Accessible

Let’s explore some ways to modify and adapt, so that everyone can experience the benefits of this powerful yoga asana.

One option is to use a strap. For those with tight shoulders or limited flexibility, a strap can be used to hold onto instead of trying to clasp hands behind the back.

Simply loop the strap around one hand and reach it over the shoulder. Then loop the other end of the strap around the other hand and reach it up from behind. This allows for a gentle shoulder stretch while still accessing the gluteal muscles and outer legs.

Another variation to make Cow Face Pose more accessible is to try it in a seated position against a wall or with your back against a chair. This provides support for those who may have difficulty balancing or sitting on their sit bones.

Additionally, you can modify by only doing one leg at a time. Rather than both legs stacked on top of each other, allowing for less pressure on the knees and hips but still achieving an effective body stretch.

With these adaptations, anyone can enjoy the benefits without feeling restricted by physical limitations.

Now, let’s transition into discussing preparatory and counter poses.

Pose Cowface Yoga / Canva

Preparatory and counter poses

Get your body ready and balanced by incorporating different preparatory and counter poses before starting. These poses will help prepare your muscles for the stretch, improve flexibility, and prevent injuries. Here are some of the recommended preparatory and counter poses to try:

1. Downward-facing dog: This pose helps stretch your hamstrings, calves, and spine while strengthening your arms, shoulders, and core.
2. Cat-cow stretch: The gentle movement of this pose helps warm up your spine while stretching the chest, shoulders, and neck muscles.
3. Eagle arms: This arm variation stretches the upper back muscles while opening up the shoulder joints.
4. Pigeon pose: This hip opener targets the inner thighs, hips, and glutes while also releasing tension in the lower back.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for staying focused and calm during the pose?

Staying focused and calm during yoga can be challenging. But it’s essential for a successful practice. One tip that works well for me is to focus on my breath. I take deep inhales and exhales while holding the pose. This helps me stay present in the moment and not get distracted by outside thoughts or distractions.

Another helpful tip is to visualize myself as a cow. Embodying their calm and peaceful nature. This visualization allows me to fully immerse myself in the pose and let go of any tension or stress in my body.

Remember to always listen to your body and modify the pose as needed to make it comfortable for you. By staying focused, calm, and connected with your breath, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the benefits.

Is it okay to do cow face pose if you have a hip injury?

If you have a hip injury, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before performing any yoga pose. Depending on the severity of your injury, modifications may be necessary or the pose may need to be avoided altogether.

In general, it’s important to listen to your body and only perform poses that feel comfortable and safe for you. Remember that yoga shouldn’t cause pain or exacerbate an existing injury.

As always, approach your practice with mindfulness and compassion towards yourself and your body’s limitations.

Can cow face pose help alleviate lower back pain?

This pose helps to stretch and release tension in the hips, which can often contribute to lower back discomfort. By sitting cross-legged and stacking one knee on top of the other. You’re able to gently open up the hip joints and create space in the lower spine.

Additionally, this pose can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles in your core and back. While it may take some practice to get into this position comfortably, incorporating cow face pose into your yoga practice can be a helpful tool for managing lower back pain.

If you have backpain, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before performing any yoga pose.

How long should you hold the pose for maximum benefit?

Holding gomukhasana, for an extended period of time can provide maximum benefit for the body and mind. As I sink deeper into the pose, I imagine myself as a cow grazing in an open field. Free from any physical or mental burdens. This symbolism helps me to connect with my inner self and release any tension in my lower back and hips.

Typically, holding the pose for 30-60 seconds on each side is recommended to fully stretch the muscles and increase flexibility. However, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

With consistent practice, this pose can lead to not only physical freedom but also a sense of peace within oneself.

What are some modifications for the pose if you have limited shoulder mobility?

If you have limited shoulder mobility, there are several modifications you can make to the cow face pose to help you get the most out of your practice.

One option is to use a strap or towel to hold onto instead of trying to clasp your hands behind your back.

You can also place a block between your hands for support and lift your elbows slightly away from your body.

Another modification is to simply bring one arm behind your back and rest it on your opposite shoulder. While reaching the other arm up and over towards the opposite side.

Remember that it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too far beyond what feels comfortable for you, as this could cause injury or strain.

Cow Face Yoga / Canva
Cow Face Yoga


So there you have it, my guide on how to do Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana). As a yoga practitioner, I highly recommend this pose for anyone looking to open up their hips, shoulders, and chest.

Remember to always listen to your body and not push yourself too far. Take precautions such as warming up before attempting the pose and using props if needed.

By avoiding common mistakes and following proper alignment cues, you can safely reap the benefits of this powerful posture.

Coincidentally, just like how we need balance in our physical practice of yoga, we also need balance in life. Cow face pose reminds us that sometimes we need to be flexible and accommodating. While other times we must be strong and unwavering.

So next time you step onto your mat, try incorporating this pose into your practice. See how it can bring more balance into your life both on and off the mat.