What is Gomukhasana?
The term Gomukhasana, a seated yoga pose that positions your body in a cow face-like pose, is derived from the Sanskrit translations of ‘go’ (cow), mukh (face or mouth), and asana (pose). Gomukhasana is a compound yoga pose like the Surya Namaskar yoga poses that stretches and works out several parts of the body including the shoulders, thighs, hips, ankles, triceps, chest, and underarms. It primarily focuses on hips and the shoulders, the two areas that are the root of pain and stiffness.
Gomukhasana yoga pose finds a mention in the 4th-century Darshana Upanishad and is not only a very effective exercise but is also used during yoga nidra, pranayama, and meditation due to its therapeutic effects. It helps in the release of hormones like endorphins that induce a sense of calm and relaxation that has far reaching benefits.
Who should do Gomukhasana?
Anyone who wants to enjoy great health and prevent diseases must practice Gomukhasana yoga regularly. It is especially advised for:
- People who suffer from chronic back, hip, or thigh pain or suffer from sciatica.
- People who want to lose weight and tone their bodies.
- Those who suffer from diabetes.
- Those who have kidney problems.
- Athletes who want to improve their performance, endurance, and flexibility.
- People who suffer from postural problems.
- Those who sit for long hours.
- People who suffer from frequent digestion issues like bloat, constipation, gas, etc.
- Those who feel stressed and anxious and are unable to properly manage these emotions.
- The posture of Gomukhasana yoga is such that it promotes balance and coordination. People who fall frequently or are unable to balance themselves, especially seniors must practice this asana regularly.
- People who want to practice pranayama and meditation should practice Gomukhasana.
- Seniors who want to improve on their mobility and flexibility.
- Gomukhasana is a great kids yoga form that helps in opening up their muscles.
- Cow face pose, with gentle modifications, is advised for pregnant women to help improve blood circulation.
- People who want to improve their immunity and metabolism.
Who should avoid Gomukhasana?
Cow face pose must not be done by the following categories of people without consulting their doctor:
- Those who suffer from severe shoulder pain or stiffness.
- People who are suffering from a hernia.
- Those who have lumbago.
- People who have severe knee, hips, wrist, or hamstring issues or injuries.
- People who have suffered from leg injuries and are yet to heal.
- People who have undergone surgery and are yet to recuperate.
- People who suffer from spondylitis.
- If you suffer from piles.
- Pregnant women must only do Gomukhasana pose only after consulting their doctor.
How does Gomukhasana help?
Gomukhasana has amazing benefits for our mental and physiological health. Here are five of the key cow face pose benefits including:
- One of the most important benefits of cow face pose is that it stimulates the kidneys and improves their functioning. This helps in preventing conditions like type-2 diabetes, kidney stones, uremia, etc.
- One of the most important Gomukhasana benefits is that it flexes your spine. This helps in improving its flexibility and range of motion.
- One of the best Gomukhasana benefits for people who want to lose weight is that it deep stretches the abdominal area including the lower body. This helps in burning the excess fat and tones the midsection.
- One of the best cow face yoga pose benefits is that it massages your abdominal muscles that helps in improving digestion process and preventing the occurrence of flatulence, bloat, constipation, etc.
- Since during the Gomukhasana procedure, you work out your thighs and lower body joints including the quadriceps muscles and hamstrings, you strengthen your lower body and improve its flexibility. This is also beneficial in reducing lower body pains and stiffness.
How is Gomukhasana done?
Gomukhasana has certain preparatory poses that are advised before you practice this asana. These poses include:
- Upavishtha Konasana
- Supta Padangusthasana
Here is a detailed step-by-step explanation of the Gomukhasana pose:
- Start by sitting on the mat with your spine straight. Extend your legs in front of you.
- Place your palms on the floor and bend your left knee. Place your left foot below the right hip by raising your body a bit.
- Fold your right leg and place it over your left thigh.
- Fold your left arm and place it behind your back.
- Gently take your right arm over your right shoulder and stretch it as much as you can till it reaches your left hand.
- You may not be able to connect both hands initially, but with practice, it will come to you.
- Expand your chest, keep your trunk erect and lean slightly back.
- Hold this pose for a few breaths.
- Concentrate on your breathing and slowly come back to the starting position.
- It is advised to hold the pose for 30-60 seconds while breathing constantly. You may start with 10 seconds and gradually increase the duration.
For people who have mastered the cow face pose, there are several variations that you can try to make it more challenging and to get more Gomukhasana benefits:
- Gomukhasana with eagle arms
- Parivatta Gomukhasana twisted
- Shoelace pose
- Supta Gomukhasana (Reclined cow face)
- Vajra Gomukhasana
- Mahavira Gomukhasana
- Hasta Gomukhasana
- Baddha Gomukhasana
What are some tips for doing Gomukhasana safely?
Like any other yoga pose, practicing Gomukhasana also requires several things that need to be kept in mind. Here are some tips for practicing Gomukhasana steps safely and so that you gain the maximum benefits:
- Beginners may find Gomukh asanas a little tricky in the beginning especially resting their bones evenly on the floor. This in turn makes the stacking of legs difficult. You can use a blanket to support and lift your bones.
- Never start doing Gomukh asanas without learning the steps from an experienced trainer and getting proper Gomukhasana information to avoid injuries. You can get this information at yoga classes near me or on health apps.
- People who have stiff shoulders or are overweight should avoid clasping their hands behind their back immediately on starting Gomukhasana.
- You should avoid straining the body beyond what you can endure while doing the cow face pose. This may result in spinal or back injuries.
- If during the cow face pose your hands don’t clasp, you may use a strap behind your back to hold your hands together.
- Never rush between the Gomukhasana steps. Practice slowly and in a relaxed manner to gain the maximum benefits.
- Always do a warm-up session before practicing Gomukhasana and a cool-down session after it to avoid fatigue and injuries.
- Breathwork is extremely critical while practicing Gomukhasana. Ensure that you are aware of your breath to get all the benefits.
- Never practice Gomukhasana if you have fever, cold, or flu.
- Don’t practice this asana if you are stressed or anxious to avoid your body getting overheated and exhausted.
- Women should not practice this asana during menstruation.
- Don’t practice Gomukhasana in a cramped space. space, where you practice this asana, should be clean and free of clutter. It should also be well-ventilated and free of noise.
- Gomukhasana is best practiced in the early morning hours. This is when you are mentally fresh and have an empty stomach and bowels.