POM~ March 2018 Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and Shoulder Openers

“Why would we want to twist our body into the shape of a cow’s face? Sometimes the Sanskrit name of a pose can reveal a hidden intention or unexpected aspect of the posture. 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.” Sandra Anderson for Yoga International

As with many Sanskrit words, gomukhasana can be translated at more than one level. The traditional translation is accurate and fun as we look for the cow face in both the position of the arms and to our folded legs and feet in this position. Along with that, this pose is wonderful as we move into spring, combining a powerful shoulder opener (much needed after this winter!)with a grounding and unique hip-opener. The option to come forward to a fold deepens the opening capacity of the asana for both shoulders and hips,and should be approached with care and contentment to where you end up! Remember props, especially straps to help with the shoulder binds, a blanket under the hip of the top leg or a block to sit on or between the knees if there is a lot of “in-between” space. One-half cow-face pose with the bottom leg extended is great for Gentle Level, as is the reclined version where thighs are crossed and knees drawn toward the chest. In more advanced classes, feel free to progress to Firelog Pose or wherever open shoulders and hips care to happily transverse!

Coupled with our Subject of the Month, Shakti, this pose also brings us to gratitude for all forms of the nurturers on our planet, of our bodies, our spirit and our minds. Those beings that renew and support life and endlessly give more than they receive in service to righting a cosmic balance that is currently out of harmony. Start humbly and see what the subtleties of this whole-body asana bring to you as space is revealed in your form!

See https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/cow-face-pose for detailed instructions on gomakhasana.

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