Cow Face Pose
March 31, 2015
Crow Pose
March 31, 2015

Cow Pose

LEVEL

Anatomy

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Pose Type

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Sanskrit

Bitilasana
(bee-tee-LAHS-anna)
bitil = cow

BENEFITS

  • Opens the chest and heart space
  • Increases flexibility of the spine
  • Strengthens the backside of the body
  • Massages the abdominal organs
  • Improves digestion, lung capacity, and circulation

CONTRAINDICATIONS

  • Wrist injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries

HOW TO

  1. Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Make sure your shoulders are aligned above your wrists and your hips are aligned above your knees.
  3. Come to a flat back by lengthening the spine. Place your head and neck in a neutral position, and gaze down toward the floor.
  4. Inhale and arch your back. Lift through your glutes and the crown of your head, and allow your belly to drop toward the floor.
  5. Roll the shoulders up and down the back, feeling the backbend in your thoracic spine. Open the chest.
  6. Hold Cow pose for one breath. Exhale and come back to a neutral, tabletop position. Or practice in conjunction with Marjaryasana (Cat pose), alternating inhales with Cow pose and exhales with Cat pose.

MODIFY OR REPLACE

Alternatives:

  • Chair Cow pose

Modifications:

  • You can choose to tuck the feet under or rest the tops of your feet on the ground—whichever is more comfortable for you.
  • If your knees are sensitive, place a blanket under your knees.

SEQUENCING TIPS

Before:

After:

TEACHING CUES

  • Push down through your hands to help arch the back.
  • Draw the shoulder blades away from the ears to protect the neck.
  • Lift your gaze toward the sky.

VARIATIONS

  • As you inhale, extend the opposite arm and leg to make this a balancing pose.
  • As you exhale, curl the extended elbow and knee into the chest. Come back to center and switch sides, moving with your breath.

WATCH OUT FOR

  • Shoulders hunching
  • Head and neck coming out of a neutral position