October Pose of the Month
Gomukhasana – Cow Face Pose
Go (Cow) Mukha (Face) Asana (Pose)
I considered doing a “scary” pose for October something that scares or challenges you like handstand or side crow for the month of Halloween but then I thought about how I love Autumn and all the deliciousness of warming soups and stews. The colours of the leaves changing and even though it can be damp , there is this sense of being grounded and at peace and how lovely it would be to recreate that feeling in the body and Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose ticks all the boxes on that front. Many people wonder as did I why its called cow face pose, the reason is its suppose to look like a cows face while chewing; the knees are supposed to look like the cows lips and the arms are the ears.
Can you see the similarity? Ok enough of the giggles!
There is also another translation: according to Sandra Anderson, she says;
“Gomukhasana translates literally as “cow’s face pose.” Go is a root word that refers to the senses, because they nourish the conscious mind, just as cow’s milk nourishes our body. Mukha means passageway or an aspect of something. Combining the two words we see that gomukha refers to the art of working with the senses as a gateway to a deeper aspect of the mind.”
I’m not going to lie Gomukhasana is not an easy pose by any means, it hits the two biggest joints in the body; the hips and shoulders allowing them to receive some much needed love and nourishment.
.Both of these joints are complex, they have a wide range of movement available to them (or they should have) and both require mobility and stability in order for them to work efficiently, effectively and functionally. Depending on what you need most you can break the pose up and do either the shoulder or hip component separately and on top of all that we need to quieten the mind by overcoming all the the physical sensations that the pose brings so that we can become more attuned to the more subtle senses that might arise.
ENERGETIC AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Induces relaxation – When you feel tired, tense or worried practicing gomukhasana can help to release tension.
Emotionally detoxifying – we tend to hold stress and anxiety in the shoulders and neck and we hold our emotional baggage in the hips. So this pose when practiced regularly can help to release pent up feelings, emotions and insecurity
Stretches the ankles, hips and thighs
Stretches and releases shoulders, triceps, armpits and chest
Strengthens fingers and wrists
Promotes mobility in shoulders and hips while strengthening the muscles in the lower back and chest
Improves posture caused by rounded shoulders and a rounded upper back.
Improves sideway curvature of the spine
Facilities deeper breathing by opening up the lungs
Stretches and strengthens rotator cuff muscles
CAN BE HELPFUL FOR:
Activates the bladder and digestive system
Helps tone pelvic and reproductive organs
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Serious shoulder or hip injury
HINTS AND TIPS
If you find it difficult to clasp the hands, don’t force it. You can focus on the actions of the shoulders – the top shoulder blades moves up towards the ear and away from the spine, the bottom shoulder blade move away from the ear and towards the spine.
You can hold a belt or towel between the hands and use the action as if you were trying to rip the belt or towel.
Use one hand to either help encourage the top hand to walk down the spine (as pictured above) or you can take hold of the bottom elbow to help walk the hand up the spine (not pictured)
If your hips don’t comfortably sit level on the floor sit on a block or blanket.
If its really uncomfortable in the hips and the sit bone are not evenly weighted even on a block, then stretch the bottom leg out straight and keep the top knee bent.
If your main focus for doing this pose is to stretch and open the hips you can fold forward (as pictured below), you can even unclasp the hands and place them on the floor as you fold over.
Be aware that there is a big tendency to puff the front ribs out in this pose so try to keep the front ribs down towards the belly button and in to the back as your lift up through the back of your heart and the crown of your head.
Once in the pose try to focus on the expansiveness on the inhale and the softening of the exhale.