Why I love Gomukhasana?
One of my favorite poses is Gomukhasana, an ancient Hatha yoga pose that has been practiced for more than 2000 years. Gomukhasana literally translates as cow face pose. As the knees stack and the ankles draw toward the hips, the shape looks like a cow’s face. Often the Sanskrit name of a pose may offer a deeper meaning or hidden intention. Go means cow and can also mean the senses. Mukha means a face and also a passageway or gateway. Combining the two words, Go and Mukha may refer to working with the senses as a gateway to a deeper aspect of the mind and a greater understanding of ourselves.
The position of the arms stabilize the alignment of the upper spine and neck which helps to improve posture and reverse the signs of aging. Practicing Gomukhasana may aid in the treatment of sciatica and enhance the function of the kidneys. It stretches the hips and psoas muscles, strengthens the spine and abdominal muscles and stretches the ankles, knees, shoulders, and chest muscles. What more can we ask of one pose?
How do I take the pose “off the mat”?
I like to practice Gomukhasana arms in the shower each morning as my muscles are warmed up by the warm water. I always start with the side that is slightly more tight and breathe into the tightness or discomfort. I hold the pose for at least 2 minutes on each side while focusing on my breath. After working at the computer, cooking meals/washing dishes, or driving for extended periods of time, I make a habit of practicing Gomukhasana arms right away and when possible, the full pose. Gomukhasana provides me with the opportunity to sit still, connect with my breath, and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in leaving me with a feeling of calm and well being. I like to notice how I feel before and after practicing Gomukhasana.