Don't take the name of this position personally—it's called the Cow Face pose because, when seen from the front, the outline of the body is thought to resemble the broad mouth and narrow head of a cow. Honest.
Step 1: Sit on mat Sit on your mat with your legs stretched straight out in front of you.
Step 2: Slide leg under Bend your knees, drawing your feet up closer to your body, and slide your right leg under your left leg, bringing your right foot back to your left hip.
Step 3: Stack knees Draw your left foot to your right hip, stacking your left knee directly on top of your right knee. Your heels should each be an equal distance from your hips.
TIP: A variation on this pose advises tucking your feet under your butt rather than leaving them next to your hips.
Step 4: Reach behind Raise your left arm into the air, bending it down at the elbow as you reach behind your head down along your back. Simultaneously reach behind you with your right arm and bend it up at the elbow, so that your right forearm runs up along your spine and the back of your right hand rests between your shoulder blades.
Step 5: Interlock fingers Interlock the fingers of your left hand with the fingers of your right.
TIP: Don't overstretch—if you can't get your hands to meet behind your back, hold a strap or belt in your left hand and grip it with your right.
Step 6: Breathe naturally Breathe naturally in this upright posture.
Step 7: Bend forward Bend forward, bringing your chest down toward your knees. This will deepen the stretch in your hips and shoulders.
Step 8: Breathe & hold Breathe smoothly and evenly while holding the pose for as long as you're comfortable.
Step 9: Release pose Release the pose by raising your chest back up, ungrasping your hands, and unbending your knees.
Step 10: Repeat pose Repeat the pose on the other side, with your right knee on top of your left and your left arm reaching up behind your back and right arm down behind your head.
Step 11: Release pose Release the pose by raising your chest back up, ungrasping your hands, and unbending your knees. Good work, Cow Face.
FACT: Hinduism holds the cow in sacred esteem for its gentle nature and nurturing qualities, symbolic of the earth's abundance.
You Will Need
Comfortable clothing suitable for stretching and moving
A calm place where you won't be distracted or disturbed