The cow face pose, or Gomukhasana in Sanskrit, is a seated yoga asana. The asanas are the various poses and postures in yoga. It is referred to as the cow face pose because when in proper form, the position of the body resembles the face of a cow. The legs look like the mouth, and the arms resemble the ears.
To do the cow face pose, begin by sitting on the yoga mat. Cross the legs over one another, and bend them to the sides of the body, stacking the knees on top of each other directly in front of the body. The right knee should be on top of the left. Sit between the feet on the sitting bones, keeping the spine straight. If the sitting bones cannot rest evenly on the floor, sit on a blanket or other type of bolster until they are even.
Next, inhaling slowly, take the right arm out to the side, and rotate it so the thumb is pointed toward the floor. Exhaling, bend it behind the back, and place it against the lower back with the palm facing up. Continue to roll the shoulder and rotate the arm against the torso, until the forearm is parallel to the spine, and the palm is reaching for the upper back.
Inhaling again, stretch the left arm up over the head, and while exhaling, bend the elbow, and stretch the left hand down the back, placing it on the back of the neck or connecting with the right hand to complete the posture. If the hands cannot meet, one may hold a strap between the hands to get the same effect. The left arm should be as close to the side of the head as possible.
For an added stretch, one may attempt to gently pull the left elbow toward the ceiling, while pulling the right elbow toward the floor. Keep the shoulder blades engaged, and try to keep the spine straight. One may sit in this pose for approximately one minute, after which the legs and arms can be switched to stretch the other side of the body.
Cow face is an excellent posture for stretching the legs, ankles, hips, shoulders, chest, and arms. To make cow face more advanced, bend forward while in the posture and rest the chest on the thigh, while keeping the spine straight. Another option is to gently pull the hands away from the back. It may be helpful to view a video or photo of someone completing the cow face pose to be certain it is being performed correctly, or simply ask a yoga teacher for assistance.