Gomukhasana is one of the postures in the second series of Ashtanga Yoga that are meant to strengthen the hips and back. The word 'gomukha' literally means 'a cow face', which describes the position you achieve when you're in this pose.
The Cow Face is a magnificent heart-opening and hip-opening yoga position. It has numerous goodness stored in for a Yogi. When you execute this posture, your fingers, shoulders and legs feel very relaxed and serene.
That's because this posture provides good blood flow to all parts of the body. There is no stress on these parts after executing this Asana.
How to do Gomukhasana?
To perform this posture:
- Your back should be straight when you sit on the yoga mat with your legs out in front of you. Your palms should be next to your hips when you stand with your feet together.
- Put your right foot under your left buttock while bending your right leg.
- Place your right knee on top of your left knee.
- Bend the elbow as you raise your left arm above your head.
- Bring your right arm behind your back, and lock your hands together at the same time.
- Breathe deeply with ujjayi, and remain for as long as it feels comfortable.
- Let your arms go as you breath.
- Repeat with the other leg after uncrossing your legs.
- In Gomukhasana, you exhale, and cross your legs. Inhaling again, bring your arms behind you, and exhale as you reach for the other arm from below.
- Every time you exhale, deepen into the pose. and loosen your body with an inhalation.
Benefits of Gomukhasana
The benefits of this pose are as follows:
1) One of the best shoulder-opening poses, the Cow Face Position, when extended and folded at the back, further expands the chest. Stretching the hips, ankles, shoulders and arms in this position strengthens the surrounding muscles and joints.
2) The Gomukhasana stretch helps improve flexibility, which can be beneficial to athletes in the long run. The arms get stronger as well, thanks to the muscles being worked at the same time.
It also helps with shoulder and upper arm flexibility. This pose encourages the back to flex, improving its flexibility. Greater portability means better flexibility.
3) This yoga pose has been found to be beneficial for those with diabetes, as it has had positive effects on kidney simulation, resulting in better functioning of the kidneys. It also aids people with diabetes by increasing the function of their kidneys.
4) The Gomukhasana is both a heart opener and a hip opener. That means it helps you balance your body as well as gives you more room in your spine. The chest area also expand with this pose, allowing for greater lung functioning. It also creates space in the pericardium area, which is at the centre of your lungs.
Gomukhasana Preparatory Poses
The opening of the hips and shoulders is useful in the Cow Face Pose, so some yoga poses are to be practiced in sequence to open the shoulders and hips. Some preparatory poses for Gomukhasana are as follows:
1) Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Before performing the Gomukhasana, it's a good idea to practice Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar), as the overall movement of the body opens up the arms, shoulders and lower back. Practice ten rounds of this yoga pose while breathing deeply.
2) Baddha Konasana
In this pose, fold your legs, and hold on to your feet. As you inhale, stretch upward. As you exhale, bring your knees towards the floor, and feel the stretch in your inner thighs and outer thighs close to the hips.
3) Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Bend the arms and legs, and lie facedown on the mat. Stretch the arms and legs, taking a few breaths. Bring your feet close to your shoulders.
Inhale; grab your ankles with your hands, and raise your upper body into a bow shape. That stretches the chest and shoulders as well as the entire leg. It's a good pose to do before practicing the Gomukhasana.
The Cow face pose can be a very useful asana to practice, but make sure you follow the instructions closely, and warm up before moving on to this asana.
If you prefer, you may use appropriate props to take the pressure off your joints, but don't do that at the expense of your alignment. This asana should be avoided if you experience excessive discomfort. Nevertheless, it's also a good idea to bend to your limits when in this asana.
The Gomukhasana opens your hip flexors and stretches many other muscles that tend to be tight on most people. As such, it's a valuable part of any yoga routine. If you're looking for a different twist on traditional stretches, the Gomukhasana could be just what you need.
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