Cow Face Pose


"What does not challenge us cannot change us." - B.K.S. Iyengar

Cow Face Pose

HOW TO PRACTICE Cow Face Pose IN YOGA (Gomukhasana)

Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Cow Face Pose


Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) full

Cow Face Pose (Sanskrit name: Gomukhasana) (go = cow, muhk = face, asana = pose) stretches the muscles of the shoulders and the hips. Few other yoga poses stretch both major areas in the same asana, making Cow Face Pose unique and one to turn to for creating more mobility in these areas of the body. 

Cow Face Pose requires a great deal of external rotation in the hip joints. But because the thighs are adducting (moving toward the midline), some yoga students who find poses like Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) or Sukhasana (Easy Pose) to be challenging may find Gomukhasana to be more accessible. 

Many practitioners can benefit from sitting on a yoga block or folded blanket or two to make this pose more accessible. Yogis with knee issues may need to modify in order to keep their knee joints comfortable. For more ideas on how to modify Gomukhasana, check out the Yoga 2.0 Tab.

Benefits of Cow Face Pose

yoga student practicing cow-face yoga pose in sanskrit (gomukhasana)

Cow Face Pose is a deep hip opener that stretches the piriformis and gluteal muscles, as well as the ankles, thighs, and hamstrings in the lower body. The asymmetrical nature of the legs calls for careful alignment of the pelvis, to avoid throwing off pelvic rhythm. In any sitting yoga pose, most people benefit greatly from elevating the hips on a blanket or two, which often allows for more freedom of movement, in addition to stabilizing the hips for this deep work. 

Practiced with the traditional arm bind, as shown here, you’ll be simultaneously strengthening and lengthening a number of muscles in your torso, back, shoulders and upper arm, including the serratus anterior, rhomboids, rotator cuff muscles, lats, deltoids, biceps, triceps, and more. 

This yoga posture can help create more mobility and range-of-motion in both your shoulder and hip joints, but there’s a caveat: If your joints are very tight, forcing this asymmetrical asana can also pose injury risk. Check out the preparatory yoga postures in the Yoga 2.0 section to work your way toward more mobility before you attempt this version. Bear in mind that by practicing the preparatory poses you’ll reap the same benefits as the full pose. Over time, you may notice increased mobility in your shoulders and torso both on-and-off the yoga mat.

Basic Cow Face Pose

how to practice cow-face pose for beginner yoga students

  1. Start seated with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor, hips-distance apart. Reach your left arm around, under and through your left leg and grab your right ankle with your left hand.
  2. Draw your right ankle toward the left hip, lowering the knee and allowing it to extend straight forward. 
  3. Cross your left leg over the right, so that the left knee is stacked on top of the right, and place your left foot outside the right hip. Situate both heels equidistant from the hips and sit evenly on both sitting bones.
  4. If your bottom knee experiences any discomfort in this pose, straighten your bottom leg out onto the floor in front of you. There is no such thing as a “good” knee pain. So make sure you straighten your bottom leg at the slightest indication of discomfort.
  5. If you can’t sit evenly on your sitting bones, place a thickly folded blanket under your hips. It works best if you place a corner of the blanket under the hips so that the blanket doesn’t interfere with your feet. If you still can’t sit evenly on your sitting bones, sometimes it’s best to straighten your bottom leg out in front of you.
  6. Flex both feet and strongly press the outer edges of your feet down into the yoga mat, straightening your ankles and lifting your outer ankle bones away from the floor. Maintain this action to stabilize your knees and deepen the hip stretch.
  7. Inhale and reach both arms up overhead. Bend your right elbow and place your right palm on your upper back toward the middle of your shoulder blades. With your left hand, gently guide your right elbow toward the midline.
  8. Inhale and straighten your elbow to extend your left arm up toward the ceiling. Then lower that arm to the side at shoulder height with the palm facing forward. Internally rotate your left arm, turning the palm to face backward, pointing your thumb down. 
  9. Exhale and bend your left elbow, bringing the back of your left hand up the center of your back.
  10. Hug your left elbow into your left side and slide your left hand further up your back toward the middle of your shoulder blades. If your hands happen to meet, clasp your fingers together. If they don’t meet, you can hold a yoga strap in your right hand, dangling it down your back, and then grab it with your left hand to connect your hands.
  11. Inhale and lengthen up through your spine. Exhale and gently press your head back into your top arm, keeping your chest open. 
  12. Inhale and lengthen up through the left side of your body. Gently draw your left shoulder back as you exhale. 
  13. Fold forward, hinging from your hips, to deepen the pose and take 5 to 6 deep breaths.
  14. To release, exhale, and release the position of the arms. Bring both hands down to the ground next to the hips.
  15. Stretch both legs out straight in front of you. Take a few breaths in Dandasana (Staff Pose) and then repeat on the second side.

Try Us Free! Get a Sample Pose Report to Experience the Full Benefits of the YogaU Pose Library.

Click Here

Check out our premium content

Video practice examples

For every yoga pose

Learn Common Alignment issues

And how to deal with them

Tips for beginners

Learn the best prep poses for each yoga pose

sign up now

Try Free for 7 Days


Curious to learn more?

See all FAQs


How to personalize my practice?

The Yoga 2.0 Pose Library helps you fit yoga poses to your individual body. It provides tools for you to customize yoga poses to your body's needs in order to gain the benefits of each yoga pose. 

When working your way through the Yoga 2.0 Pose Library, pay particular attention to the Yoga 2.0 Poses section as well as the Preparatory Poses under the Teaching Tips tab. This is where you will find some of the juiciest content in the Yoga 2.0 Pose Library!

What do I get When I sign Up?

When you register for a basic account, you get access to basic pose information about each yoga pose. You can also view three Pose Library blog articles or three yoga pose video tutorials each month. 

If you choose to register for a premium account, you will have access to our library of 1000s of unique Yoga 2.0 pose modifications, video tutorials for each yoga pose, preparatory yoga poses and common misalignments for every yoga pose, precautions, and more!

If you choose to subscribe to our premium Plus membership, you will also get access to our Yoga Sequence Builder, which allows you to create a yoga practice sequence with any and all of the yoga poses featured throughout the Yoga 2.0 Pose Library!

What are Yoga 2.0 Poses?

The idea behind Yoga 2.0 is that yoga poses should be individualized for every person. 

Yoga 2.0 Poses give you a foundation to begin designing your own customized yoga practice that suits your body's needs.

Choosing the right Yoga 2.0 Pose begins with your relationship with your body and making healthy choices that respect your personal boundaries. 

Is this for beginners too?

The Yoga 2.0 Pose Library is for every body! 

Whether you are a beginner or already far along on your yoga journey, the Yoga 2.0 Pose Library has something for everyone. 

Are you looking for creative, fun ways to modify yoga poses? Check out our collection of Yoga 2.0 Poses, which features 1000s of Yoga Pose Modifications. 

Looking to expand your practice or teaching? The Teaching Tips and Deepen the Pose sections provide fun ways to challenge your yoga practice as well as practical tips for learning and teaching new yoga poses. 

Can't find a certain pose

Our Yoga 2.0 Pose Library is an ever-expanding library. 

We will be adding new yoga poses over time - keep checking back for our latest yoga poses!


Check out our Mastery content!

Get access to all the Pose Library has to offer by signing up for our Mastery membership.

Includes Pose Precautions and special access to our state of the art Yoga Sequence Builder.


View options

Sorry, You have reached your
monthly limit of views

To access, join us for a free 7-day membership trial to support expanding the Pose Library resources to the yoga community.

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial

You need a free account to do this

Register for a free account to save your Favorite Poses! You can return to them again and again!

Click below to join us!

Simply click below to register and join us. Your Favorite Poses will appear in your private Dashboard section of the site.

Get your free account


Check out our premium content

Get access to all the Pose Library has to offer by signing up for one of our premium memberships.


1000s of pose modifications & more!

The Yoga 2.0 Pose Library features 1000s of yoga pose modifications, video tutorials, teaching and practice tips, best prep poses, and common alignment issues for every yoga pose.


View options