Improve your shoulder flexibility with cow face arms

A shoulder stretch I like to include in the lunchtime mini sessions I do in work is gomukhasana, or cow face pose. This is because it’s really good for working into your shoulders, and it’s also useful one which reveals to people if they have tight shoulders or not. For these short sessions in work we just do the arms of gomukhasana and sit in a chair or on the floor. So if you have tight shoulders you might want to give this one a go, every day!

Gomukhasana pose from behind
(c) Alyson Tyler

Cow Face Arms* – Raise right arm straight up and bend at the elbow to take the hand down behind your head and neck. Gently press backwards on the right elbow with the left hand to move the hand a little further down the spine. If this is ok for you, you can then take the left hand up behind your back, and join fingers. Breathe naturally and hold then repeat on other side. You can hold it for just 2 seconds or up to 30 seconds or more.

If your fingers don’t join behind the back you can either use a strap held between both hands, or, stay in the preparatory position of the left hand encouraging the elbow of the right arm backwards, and then change arms.

For a detailed description of the full pose see the Yoga Journal website directory. If you have shoulder issues you might want to read some of their articles on shoulder care and shoulder safety (the latter also includes detailed description of the range of movements from the shoulders). There is also a short shoulder-opening video sequence on the Yoga Journal’s YouTube channel which has several different stretches for improving your shoulder flexibility.

*So called as the full pose is said to resemble the face of cow (if viewed from the front)

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