I’ve done this pose many, many times but never understood why it was called cow face pose. It made no sense to me at all! Today I saw a little blurb on a sidebar in http://www.yogajournal.com that asked “can’t see the cow face?” Of course I clicked on it: The legs are the lips and the elbows extending up and down are the ears. OK, I can stretch my mind enough to see the cowJ
Regardless of whether or not you can see the cow face in this pose, it’s a nice hip and shoulder opener. Typically you start in dandasana (Staff pose) with the legs extended in front of you and the spine erect. Draw the right foot to the outside of the left hip and then cross the left leg over top to bring the left foot to the right hip. Try to get the feet an even distance from the hips and try to sit evenly on the sitting bones. Ideally you want to have the left knee stacked directly over the right.
Next, stretch your right arm out to the right so it parallels the floor. Rotate the arm inwardly so the thumb turns toward the floor. Bend the elbow and bring the forearm along the back, drawing it upward so that the fingers are pointing toward the ceiling. Draw the shoulder blades firmly onto your back as you do this – they’ll want to pop off, resist!
Extend the left arm out to the side and then bring it overhead. Bend the elbow so that the palm comes between the shoulder blades. Remember your shoulder blades again. Did they lift off your back? Try to keep them firmly rooted to your back. As you do this your chest will lift. Maybe your finger will touch; maybe you can hook the fingers together. If you don’t find fingers behind your back a strap is an excellent tool. Hold the strap in each hand as shown in the photo. Hold the pose for about a minute and then switch sides.