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Cow Face Pose (gomukhasana)

Seated posture that provides a good stretch for your arms and shoulders.
 

Cow Face Pose (gomukhasana) - Yoga Posture
Cow Face Pose (or gomukhasana) is an uplifting pose that provides a good stretch for your arms and shoulders. This pose is also beneficial for releasing tension in your shoulders and opening your chest to help facilitate deep breathing.
 
If you have rounded shoulders, you can perform Cow Face Pose to help improve your posture.
 
While performing Cow Face Pose, try to keep both sitting bones on the floor and your knees stacked on top of each other. The position of your legs in this pose provides a great stretch for your hips, thighs and ankles.
 
When you clasp your hands behind your back in this pose, remember to keep your shoulders square to the front and your chest expanded. Make sure you do not hunch your shoulders or twist your wrists to clasp your hands.
 
Use caution performing Cow Face Pose if you have shoulder problems, such as rotator cuff tendonitis. You should also be careful performing this pose if you have neck, hip or knee problems.
 
Steps:
Begin in Staff Pose.
Bend your left leg and bring your left heel under your right thigh, near your right hip.
Bend your right leg over your left knee and bring your right heel near your left hip.
(Make sure your right knee is directly above your left knee.)
Rest your palms on your feet.
Press your sitting bones into the floor and point the crown of your head toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.
Bend your left elbow and bring your left forearm behind your back.
Rest the back of your left hand in the middle of your back, near your shoulder blades.
(Your left forearm and the fingers of your left hand should be pointing toward your head.)
Inhale and extend your right arm over your head.
Bend your right elbow and place your right hand between your shoulder blades.
(Your right palm should be facing your back and the fingers of your right hand should be pointing toward the floor.)
With your right hand, clasp the fingers of your left hand.
Gently pull your elbows away from each other. Feel your shoulders stretching and your chest opening.
Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds and then release your hands and return to Staff Pose.
Repeat steps 2 to 12 for your other side.
 
What can I do if I cannot clasp my hands behind my back?
You can hold a strap with your hands as close together as is comfortable for you. Then gently pull your elbows away from each other.
 
What should I do if I find the leg position in this pose too difficult?
You can perform the upper body stretch of this pose while sitting in Easy Pose, or Thunderbolt Pose.
 
How can I deepen the pose?
Before you hold the pose, pull your abdominal muscles toward your spine and bend forward from your hips as you gently press your chest toward the floor. Make sure you keep your hands clasped and your elbows pulling away from each other. This modification helps to relieve headaches and also allows you to breathe through your nose more easily.
 
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