Graphics by Morgan Jeske ©2014
In a previous Newsletter, (The Planes of Movement) we asked what movements are occurring at the three joints labeled here in the yoga pose known as Cowface (Gomukhasana).
Ready for the answers?
A = external rotation, adduction and flexion of the femur in the hip sockets;
B = external rotation, flexion and abduction of the right humerus in the shoulder socket;
C = internal rotation, extension and adduction of the left humerus in the shoulder socket.
Knowing that these are the movements required for this pose allows us to come into the posture in stages: for example – when you try to clasp your hands behind your back in Cowface pose, first extend your left arm out to the side, turn the palm down, then turn the palm towards the back of the room. If you have more room to move, keep rotating (internally) the arm until the palm faces the ceiling, but do this without moving your chest or shoulder forward. This is pure internal rotation of the arm. Next, move the arm backwards (extension) as far as you can before folding the elbow. Then, bending the elbow, bring the arm behind your back (adduction) and wiggle your hand as high up between your shoulder blades as possible. Positioning the arm first in internal rotation, then extension and finally adduction may allow you to reach higher up your back than you can by simply thrusting your arm behind your back.
For the right arm we do something similar: reach your right arm out to the side, turn the palm so it faces forward, (external rotation) and if possible rotate the palm towards the ceiling. If possible, keep rotating until the palm faces the back of the room. Next abduct the arm up along side your head before flexing the elbow and reaching down your back for your other hand.
Knowing the movement of the limbs required to achieve a posture allows us to come into the posture in the safest and most economical way, and also may provide you a greater depth in the pose. As always, move with both intention and attention to avoid any possibility of injury.