In the founding text on Hatha Yoga Pradipika yoga, only 15 asanas are mentioned, and among them is Gomukhasana (Cow Head pose). The 17th-century treatise, Gheranda Samhita, already lists 32 poses, and Gomukhasana is also one of them. It is described as follows: "Place both feet on the floor on both sides of the pelvis and maintain stability." Nothing is said about the hands, but in modern hatha yoga a certain position has been fixed, which we will try to master. B.K.S. Iyengar says that the posture makes the muscles of the legs more elastic, opens the chest, aligns the back and develops the muscles of the shoulder girdle. It includes the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, chest, pelvis and hips. It is likely that you will also experience effects on your ankles, forearms, and palms. Before proceeding with Gomukhasana, the shoulder and hip joints should be prepared. Take the belt and stand in Tadasana. Stretch your arms forward and pull the belt, spreading your palms about a meter apart. Breathe in, slowly raise your arms above your head and stay in this position for a few seconds.
As you exhale, gently place your hands behind your back and pull the belt tight again. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction: on inhalation, return the arms to a vertical position, and on the exhale, stretch them in front of you.
If during these operations the arms are bent at the elbows and the shoulders are raised, grab the belt a few centimeters wider. You must choose a distance between your palms so that your arms remain straight and your shoulders point down from your head.
Follow the entire sequence several times. When you feel that the muscles of the shoulder girdle have warmed up well, hang the strap on your left shoulder and extend your left arm to the side parallel to the floor, palm down. Wrap it inward, thumb to the floor. Continue to rotate your hand until your thumb is facing back and your palm is facing the ceiling. On exhalation, with one decisive movement, bend your left hand at the elbow and wrap your forearm behind the lower back, placing it along the waist. Point your elbow towards the body, do not pull it back. If in this position the front of the armpit (pectoralis major muscle) is caught between the body and the inner surface of the arm, release it and point it upward towards the shoulder with your right hand. Then move your left forearm up: ideally, the back of your hand should be pressed to your back in the area between the shoulder blades. Do not despair if reaching this position has not yet been achieved. Do not force the movement if the muscles are not ready for this. The main thing is to point the left elbow towards the body.
Pull your right hand up and turn it outward so that the thumb is pointing to the right and the palm is facing back. Co-rot those hand at the elbow. Holding it near your head, stretch your right palm down behind your back. Grasp the belt with both hands or, if you can, snap your fingers together. Do not push the front ribs forward. Lean back as if you want to lean on your left forearm, and direct the area of the lower ribs down and in. Stay in pose for a minute. Pod-ni-may-te right elbow to the ceiling, and the left point down to the floor. Then, disengage your fingers, free your hands, shake them and perform a pose in the other direction (right hand below, left above).
Foot by foot
Sit on the blanket folded several times and bend your knees, placing your feet approximately half a meter from the pelvis. Then slide your right foot under the left knee, placing it to the left of the hip joint so that the outer side of the right lower leg lies on the floor. Position the lower part of the left lower leg on the right thigh next to the knee so that the sole is perpendicular to the floor, and the left lower leg and knee are as parallel as possible. Make sure that the shin rests on the thigh, not the ankle. Otherwise, you risk damaging the knee of your left leg.
If the left knee rises strongly up to the ceiling, it means that the muscles of the outside of the thigh are not ready for further work, and you should not move on. Sometimes the position of the legs causes the body to lean forward. In this case, you need to sit on a support higher. Never push your knee down! If the left leg is easily lowered to the floor, push the right lower leg forward, placing it under the left. Then lean forward slightly and lower your palms to the floor in front of the legs. It doesn't matter how low you can bend down in the long run - in any case, don't slouch. Pull the body forward from the groin area, not from the abdomen. Hold the pose for one to two minutes, then do it with another cross-leg.
Now we can proceed to the fulfillment of Gomukhasana. Sit on the floor, taking the same position as at the beginning of the preparation of the hip joints: the right heel to the left of the left thigh, the left lower leg on the right thigh. Place your right knee in line with your belly button. Then do the same with the left knee, lower it to the right and place the left foot on the outside of the right thigh. Keep your heels at the same distance from the pelvis. If the left foot moves away from the pelvis and you are unable to fix its position, you can put a bag of sand on top.
Lower your left hand down, wrap your forearm behind your back and slide it up along your back. Pull your right hand up, bend at the elbow and snap your fingers together. If you want to complicate the task, lean forward slightly. Stay in pose for a minute. Then release your arms and legs and repeat the pose the other way.
For many, performing Gomukhasana is a real torture, but this does not mean that posture should be neglected. Due to the position of the hands, triceps are lengthened in it and the chest opens. This makes the asana indispensable in preparing for deflections and inverted poses. In addition, the hip joints and hips are involved in the work, which is well prepared for standing and twisting poses.
- Reveals chest
- Makes the muscles and ligaments of the ankles, hips and shoulder girdle more elastic
- Stretches triceps and latissimus dorsi
- Serious neck problems
- Shoulder problems
- Knee injury