Whenever in class if teacher ask to work on our arms in Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose), I will be very reluctant as this simple but yet challenging pose was never my favorite pose due to my tight shoulders. This pose seems to stretch every tight muscle I have, all at once, which apparently shoulders, armpits and triceps. Hence lately I’ve been working so hard to find out the reason behind. The simple answer is tight shoulder muscles and this pose requires shoulders to move into the positions that they never assume in daily life. In yoga anatomy you need to rotate your right arms so the palm faces forward; this is external rotation of the shoulder. Hold this rotation and flex your shoulder to 90 degrees while lift your arm overhead into full flexion. If you’ve managed to hold the external rotation, your palm will spiral toward the wall behind you and your elbow callus and triceps brachii muscle (on the back of the upper arm) will be facing straight ahead, not out to the side. Next, keeping your left arm by your side, rotate it so your palm faces backward and keep rotating until the palm faces out to the side, with your little finger forward. This is internal rotation of the shoulder. Bend the left elbow and bring your forearm and hand around and up your back to clasp your right hand, fingers, or wrist.
So what make this pose so challenging for me?
The triceps brachii (triceps) is a large, three-headed muscle of the upper arm and assists with shoulder extension and also extends the elbow. If it’s tight, it can significantly restrict your ability to flex the shoulder and elbow at the same time, which is the desired position of the up arm in Gomukhasana.
How to improve:
- Stand in a doorway with your right arm up in the stretch. Place your right triceps on the doorjamb, with your body and face looking through the doorway. Gradually press your armpit into the doorjamb, so there is less and less space between your armpit and the doorjamb, and your elbow moves up toward the ceiling. In this position, you should find a good stretch of your right shoulder and triceps.
- Place one hand behind your lower neck and your other hand on your elbow. Gently push your elbow backwards so your hand moves further down your spine until you feel a mild to moderate.