Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Cow Face Pose, Gomukhasana, (go-moo-KAHS-ah-nah)

go (cow) + mukha (face) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Gomukhasana

Pose Type: Seated, Sciatica

Difficulty:  Beginner

  • woman doing cow face pose
  • woman doing cow face pose from the back

Where’s the cow face? The legs represent the lips, whilst the arms represent the ears- one pointing upwards, and one facing down

cow face pose Fundamentals

Release tension and melt away stress in Cow Face pose. This asymmetrical seated pose targets the hips and shoulders while also energizing the spine, creating a full body experience.

Feel this pose from bottom to top as you stretch your calves, breathe into the hips, create space in your spine and stretch your neck. This sitting bind pose also opens your chest and shoulders if you’ve been working the arms all day on a computer. 

It’s a great pose to unwind and relieve stress. Align the spine and create space in between each vertebra. When stress and tension build in the body you might feel heavier. The hips are known to store emotions so do keep this in mind when working with this pose. Come into Cow Face Pose anytime you just need to release and walk off your mat feeling lighter.

cow face pose Benefits

  • Helps with sciatica pain.
  • Deep stretch in the knees, hips, and hamstrings creating elasticity in these joints and muscles.
  • Releases pent up tension, tightness in shoulders creating a greater range of motion there.
  • Open up through the chest, armpits and shoulders for an expansive feeling through the upper body.  
  • This is a great pose to unwind and restore right before bed.
  • Improves posture by breathing into each vertebra releasing tension in the legs, chest, shoulders, arms and spine.

How To Do cow face pose: Step-By-Step

a gif of a woman doing cow face pose

How To Get There:

1. Begin in a comfortable seated position at the center of your mat.

2. Start to shift your weight to your right hip or glute. Cross your left leg over towards the right side, stack left knee over right. If knees do not stack do not force it, instead allow your left leg to stop as far as it will go. Use a blanket to lift the hips and bring the floor up to meet you a little higher for some more support. 

3. The ankles will splay out on opposite sides as you come to sit in between them. Energize through the soles of the feet allowing them to adjust as needed. 

4. Root down through the sit bones and extend through the crown of the head. 

5. Hands can rest on the ankles, feet, or we can use the fingertips on the ground as a stand to prop you up. 

6. Extend your left arm out long to the side, face the palm up. Reach it up and overhead bending at the elbow and bringing the palm to cup the back of the head or to rest the hands or fingertips between your shoulder blades. Elbow points up toward the ceiling.

7. Extend your right arm out long to the side, rotate the forearm turning the thumb down, face the palm back.

8. Bend at the elbow and bring the back of the right hand to your low back. Palm facing the back of the room.

9. Start to gently reach the palm up the back but do not force it. Elbow points toward the floor.

10. Reach the hands toward each other to see if they touch. If they don’t touch, allow them to clasp onto your shirt as far as they will go. If they do touch, clasp the hands together or lace the fingers together. 

11. Broaden through the chest and lift through the armpits. Breathe into the belly and ground, releasing through the pelvic floor muscles and hip joints. Come forward for a greater opening in the hips, shoulder and release in the spine.

12. Stay here for 3-7 breaths. Gently come out of the pose by carefully releasing the hands and extending the arms out long to the side. Repeat on the opposite sides.

Tips And Tricks:

  • For tight hips use a blanket to support you underneath and allow you to sit comfortably in the pose so you are not fussing too much. 
  • You can rest the shin on top of the knee instead if that is as far as the left leg will go. 
  • Bring the foot to the ground if the hips are too tight to cross over. 
  • Use a strap to link the hands together. 
  • Careful not to dip into the ankles by adjusting your feet to be comfortable. 
  • Warm up the shoulders to avoid hyperextension. 
  • Open your heart with the help of your arms

cow face pose Variation: Cow Face pose with a blanket and a strap 

  • cow face pose arms with strap
  • cow face pose arms

Sit on a blanket to lift your hips and allow for a more comfortable sitting position bringing your back into neutral position. Stack left knee over right. Grab your strap and use it to link your hands together if they do not reach each other.

cow face pose Variation: Cow Face pose with eagle arms

Come into a comfortable seated position and stack left knee over right. Extend both arms out long to the side creating a T shape. Bring the left elbow underneath your right and press the forearms together pressing the palms together or grabbing the opposite wrist. Keep the elbows lifted as you roll the shoulders back.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Not aligning the spine when seated.

Not aligning the pelvis when seated.

Knee or Shoulder Injuries:

This pose does create a lot of flexion in the knee joints and shoulders, if you feel any pain there or are recovering from an injury, honor your body and come out of the pose. Practice Easy Seat or Easy Twist instead.

Related Poses

Seated twist

Pigeon Pose

Reclined cow legs 

Eagle Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Seated Bound Angle

Reclined Bound Angle

Yogi Squat (malasana)

Eagle arms 

Counter Poses:

Dandasana

Seated forward fold 

Downward dog

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

Anna Novelo

Anna Novelo

Anna is a freelance lifestyle writer and yoga teacher currently living in sunny San Diego, California. She uses the tools of storytelling and yoga to convey a message of hope and inspiration. Her mission is to make the tools of yoga accessible to as many people as possible especially those in underrepresented communities.

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