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The Yoga Pose Less Traveled:
Cow's Head & Dancing Shiva

Cow's Head (Gomukhasana)
This pose works your hips and shoulders at the same time and you probably either love it or hate it, depending on how flexible you are - or aren't - in those areas. Practiced regularly, Cow's Head will help keep you young, since it works on a number of crucial joints that degenerate with age (that is, if you don't work at keeping them supple). Clasping your hands behind your back - or using a strap to work up to the clasp - helps to keep your posture upright. The tight crossing of the legs works the hip and knee joints. The key to this pose is acceptance - it's especially important not to force. For most people, it's not an easy pose to master fully - some find the top half easy, but the bottom half excruciating, or vice versa (others find both difficult). What's important is to work at it carefully, consciously... and, most of all, to breathe. If your body resists, that means you must learn the art of release. Cow's Head is good for that.
(Article continued below.)

Dancing Shiva (Natarajasana)
As opposed to Cow's Head - which looks out-and-out uncomfortable - Dancing Shiva is one of Yoga's most beautiful poses. Appearances are deceiving, however, because this combination of balance posture and back bend is not the easiest pose to achieve - it's somewhere between Tree Pose (Vrksasana) and Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) in difficulty. Like all balance poses, Dancing Shiva requires focus, but in addition to teaching your mind to be still, it inspires physical grace. In that way, you get an extra benefit in addition to building balance, leg strength and opening up your upper body (all pretty nice benefits on their own!). Natarajasana is named after Nataraja, one aspect of the Hindu god Shiva. Dance is the original art form, created before man had tools to paint or carve. Dancing Shiva, perhaps more than any other Yoga pose, is a reminder that the body is an instrument, a vehicle through which one expresses the divine... which is, after all, Yoga's ultimate goal.

Back to Start >> Lesser-Known Yoga Postures Worth Your Time >> Page 1, 2, 3

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