More Poses

Download the Fall Newsletter Here...

Gomukhasana Arms(Standing Cow Face Arms)

CowFace Arms

Go stand in front of the mirror again. Without trying to fix your posture, examine the shape of your shoulders. Are your shoulders square and broad, or are they starting to droop down and for-ward? You may notice a collapsed chest or arms that roll in. For many people, the stresses of modern life and postures required by such things as car seats and desk work cause our shoulders to sag and drop forward. Notice if yours have started to slump. Some of you won't need to even look in the mirror, you'll feel chronic tightness in your neck or shoulders, or even feel a hunched over feeling in your upper back or maybe even recurring headaches. Physically, the issue is usually an overstretching of the rhomboid muscles (the muscles that activate between the shoulder blades) and a corresponding tightening of the muscles across our chest.

Luckily, through asana practice, we can reverse this cycle by strengthening the rhomboids and opening the chest. We'll do this by adding gomukhasana (cow face) arms to the tadasana pose we learned about in the Fall 2002 newsletter (visit the website if you threw it away).

Follow the instructions for tadasana so that you have a beautifully balanced pose, your legs firmly grounding into the earth while your spine grows toward the sky. Use the internal lengthening of your spine and ribcage to provide a lift under your collarbones that expands out through your shoulders making them "square". Feel your shoulder blades slide towards each other and down towards your hips.

As you begin to move your arms, remember to keep your shoulders open in this broad, square alignment. Move slowly to ensure that the movement of your arms does not cause your shoulders to drop into the 'incorrect' postural alignment we're trying to correct.

Now, stretch your left arm straight up and bend your elbow so your hand is behind your neck and your elbow is by your ear (for those of you that are tight-of-shoulder, hold a strap in your left hand and let it dangle down along your spine). Feel free to take your right hand to your left elbow to help pull your left arm behind your head, allowing your left hand to reach further down your spine. Make sure your neck is soft... this is a shoulder opener, not a neck-hardener.

Now comes the tricky part. With your right arm by your side, sneak your right hand behind your back and reach far to the left without disturbing your shoulder alignment. Bend your right elbow and reach your hand up to clasp your left hand (if your using a strap, grab the end of the strap and move your hands toward each other).

Notice if you've started to arch your back. To un-arch your back, draw your breath into the backside of your body to create a lift and lengthening for your spine. With the exception of your arms, you should feel like you are still in tadasana.

Now tune your awareness inward. Let the breath fill your lungs and expand under your collarbones to provide a greater broadness to the chest. Let your inhalation make your shoulders broader. Allow the breath to increase the distance between both elbows.

What does this pose tell you about how stress in your lifestyle affects your body? Does the tightness in your neck and shoulders tell you that you internalize stress too much? Does the closed nature of your shoulders echo a sense of shutting out the world around you? Let your body integrate the opposing power and elasticity of the pose. Let your mind balance attentiveness, focus, and relaxation.

Hold this pose for several breaths and repeat on the other side (note, you may find that one side is much easier than the other.) This is a good pose to incorporate into a regular routine, regardless of how tight your shoulders are.

Amir


^Top * - Schedules - * - Workshops - * - Articles - * - Store -


Last modified: Wednesday, 21-Sep-2005 01:00:31 EDT