If you could pick only yoga one pose to do daily, which one would it be? As many of us have jobs, are busy with kids, and have maybe a few scraps of time to ourselves everyday, the question becomes “which yoga pose can we do daily?”
Before I reveal which one, let me tell you why you need to do this mystery pose. This is the position our body is in for 8 hours a day at work:
And this is what position our body is in during a 1-2 hour commute five days per week:
What do you think our shoulders are like after 10 hours of being hunched over something? They are tight as heck! Therefore, the pose one should and can do everyday is Gomukhasana arms (Cow’s face pose). Not only can you do this pose everyday, you can do it several times per day. You don’t need a yoga studio, you don’t need a teacher, you don’t need incense, you don’t even need a playlist. All you need is the ability to stand up and swing your arms around.
Gomukhasana arms are among the very first of the asanas one has to learn on the Iyengar certification syllabus. I think this was deliberate, as many have horribly stiff shoulders. Having pliable shoulders opens up worlds of asanas, particularly in Purva Pratana Sthiti (back bending clan). Conversely, having chronically stiff shoulders is just a miserable way to function.
Most people have difficulty doing classic Gomukhasana arms as seen below.
There is no need to fret. Here is how to get the same actions of the classic pose with one arm.
First stand in Tadasana.
Then take your right arm and rotate it inward from the top arm.
Bring your arm forward across the front plane of your body.
And swing your arm diagonally bringing your hand to your back.
From here, hold the right hand with the left and pull to close the gap between the arm and the torso.
Then move the hand between the shoulder blades
Repeat the other side.
Stand in Tadasana and raise the right arm to Urdhva Hastasana.
Rotate the arm out from the upper arm. You can use your left around the bicep/tricep to guide the rotation. Keep the upper arm near the ear.
Bend the elbow and see if you can place the hand in the middle of the shoulder blades.
Now combine Step I and Step II.
If you cannot reach the fingers, use a belt, towel, jacket, or anything made of cloth lying around.
Once you have hold of the fingers or strappage, roll both upper arms out to expand the chest.
This may not be the most glamorous way to practice, or even the most preferable. But any yoga is better than no yoga. And you will be amazed at how big of a difference this pose makes if you do it several times a day for a month. You will definitely be able to throw away your back scratcher.
Well written. May peace be with you 🙂
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I do reclined twist to the left and right when I get into bed at night, and usually happy baby when I wake up. You make an excellent point for doing cow’s face pose.
I would do (should do) the Sun Salutation every morning. It is such a pleasant motion, and seems to work all my muscles and feels like a complete work out with just one move.
Fantastic pose that I can’t do. … Yet!
I actually used my back scratcher as the catch towel. Very useful, and then used it to scratch my back afterwards. ;D
Well-instructed and excellent use of humor, in my opinion. Thanks. Thanks also for liking my blog post. OM Shanti. Holly
Wow this is excellent. You are spot on about sitting at a computer monitor and in a car for far too many hours due to work. I will definitely be doing this as I sit at work from now on. A quick question. I can do this pose quite easily if I have my right hand on top and left hand on the bottom. It feels next to impossible to do the other way around. Should I be able to do this both ways?
Great question Maxsdaddy! Typically, our dominant side is the tighter one as we tend to use it more. If you are markedly tight on one side, you should do it twice (or even thrice) for every time you do the more pliable side until you cannot tell the difference. This of course may take years. One of the aims of yoga is to gain symmetry in your body so you are not lopsided or “unbalanced” as that invites problems.
Had my wife and son try it and neither of them could do it either side, so I guess I’m one step ahead of them. I’ll try using a towel to loosen up the side I can’t reach with. Thanks for the info!
So cool that you are doing this with your family!
The cows face pose has really helped loosen up my shoulders when I sit at my desk at work. Any suggestions on a pose to loosen up tight neck muscles?
Great suggestion for a daily pose – I’m ready to take the challenge! Though I just finished the first year of the Luna Yoga teacher training program, I still struggle with practicing daily – even when I know how much good it does me. Thanks for liking my post so I could discover your blog – I enjoy your writing and reflections and will be checking in from time to time.
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Dear Sir, I really do not know anything about you – But I am amazed, privileged and lucky to have landed on your blog. I need a help from you – I have a cervical disc bulge that’s pressing into my spinal cord giving me Cervical radiculopathy and Sciatica – Since a year i have been in tremendous pain every second of my life. Can you please suggest some pose that will help with my cervical column and take the disc bulge back to its normal position relieving me of the pain.
You should probably see a doctor. That being said, have you tried offset trikonasana with the right foot at the front of your mat and left foot back going to the right and vice versa? That is a therapeutic application for sciatic pain. Hope that advice helps.