Stretches the hips, ankles and shoulders while opening chest and lengthening spine.
Cow Face Pose (Sanskrit: Gomukhasana)
1. Bend your knees with feet on floor. Slide right foot under the left knee to the outside of the left hip. Then cross your left leg over the right, stacking the left knee on top of the right and bring the left foot to the outside of the right hip. Try to bring the heels by hips evenly. Sit evenly on the sitting bones. You may sit on a block to elevate hips. If this isn’t available to you, simply sit in an easy seated pose.
2. Inhale and stretch your left arm straight out to the left, parallel to the floor. Flip thumb down towards floor. This movement will roll your left shoulder slightly up and forward. With a full exhalation, sweep the arm behind your torso and tuck the forearm in the hollow of your lower back, parallel to your waist, with the left elbow against the left side of your torso. Roll the shoulder back and down, then work the forearm up your back until it is parallel to your spine. The back of your hand will be between your shoulder blades. Ensure that your left elbow doesn't slip away from torso.
3. Inhale and lengthen right arm in front of you parallel to the floor. Turn the palm up on the exhale. With another inhalation, stretch the arm straight up toward the ceiling, palm turned back. Lift actively through your right arm. With an exhalation, bend the elbow and reach down for the left hand. If possible, hook the right and left fingers. This is where the strap comes in handy.
4. Lift the right elbow toward the ceiling with left elbow toward the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift your chest. Try to keep the right arm beside the right side of your head.
5. Stay in pose ~5-10 breaths. Release arms, uncross legs and repeat with the arms and legs reversed for the same length of time. Remember that whichever leg is on top, the same-side arm is lower.
Note: In addition to utilizing a strap, you may sit on a yoga block or elevate your hips to assist you with the lower body portion of this pose.
Contraindications: If you have any shoulder issues or knee concerns, please do not perform that half of the pose. As with all yoga and exercise, seek guidance from a medical provider to ensure you are ready to partake.
Namaste - The light within me honors the grace and wisdom within you.