On Wednesday I wrote about the perils of shoulder impingement and how an imbalanced infraspinatus can’t hold the humerus in a healthy position. Now, let’s paint a happier picture! Imagine that you have a pair of Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls in your hand. Place one on your infraspinatus muscle of both your right and left shoulders and start rolling. Now, check out this video of Yoga Tune Up® Cow Face Pose so you can Tune Up your infraspinatus to work smarter, not harder.

With the upper arm in flexion and external rotation the infraspinatus contracts, while with the lower arm in internal rotation and extension the infraspinatus lengthens. Since you are switching arms in this pose to achieve symmetry, your infraspinatus of both arms get equal opportunity to contract and lengthen.

Texting and using computers are part of every day life, so taking a break every so often to do this pose can help counteract any discomfort you may be experiencing. Enjoy this daily dose of shoulder vibrancy!

Discover solutions for shoulder pain

Watch more shoulder videos

Read more on erasing shoulder pain


Ilene Cohen

I am a RYT 500, Certified Yoga Tune Up® Teacher, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Diabetes Educator, and am passionate about integrating my diverse background to help others. A long time career in healthcare lead me to begin teaching yoga in doctors offices and a local hospital, where I taught prenatal, postpartum and children's yoga classes in English and Spanish. I currently teach alignment-based vinyasa group classes at various corporate and residential health clubs and fitness centers throughout New York City, and maintain a private practice for a variety of clientele from young adults to seniors. I am most grateful to Yoga Tune Up® for deepening my knowledge of anatomy and an array of therapeutic techniques which I can use for a lifetime and share with others.

Leave a Reply

24 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
23 Comment authors
Elise S Guadalupe

After an injury that had me away from my practice for a few months, I found that I had not only lost flexibility, but I lost core strength. I have been practicing plank and chaturanga danasana in an effort to kick start my practice quickly. However, my shoulders have been screaming for love as a result. The arm Cow Face Pose has my rotator cuff muscles happy and strong again.


Great instructions for massaging the infraspinatus muscle before proceeding to Cow Face Pose.


In my physical therapy practice, I often see dysfunction specifically through the infraspinatus. I like this article because it outlines the importance of not only lengthening your infraspinatus, but also contracting it. Throwing in the link to Cow Face Pose is a great addition to a well-rounded blog post!


thank you for great article. the video cueing helpful and precise with modifications. this sequence also a great one that can be done at the office.


Thank you for this suggestion. So easy to work on opening and stretching the infraspinatus. I will definitely do this simple routine daily to keep my shoulder mobile as long as I possibly can!! My goal is to touch with both hands behind my upper back. I am close on one side, the other might take a while!

Debra Forselius

Great video of how to wake up and strengthen the infraspinatus. Great way to Strengthen the core and help with scar tissues. I too ha e had a c-section as well as core damage from a major accident.


Thanks for the article. This is one that can be done at work. You can stand to get out of your chair and do this stretch. More bang for your buck.

Murielle Corwin

I truly appreciate the differetiation between the internal and external shoulder rotation. I often find that we tend to emphasize external rotation of the shoulders but we really need both aspect to gain greater mobility in the shoulders. Thank you you for sharing this information on shoulders mobility.

Stacey Rosenberg

I love practicing the top and the bottom arm one at a time. When I teach this I love how many students can touch in the full pose. The seem to get stuck with the bottom arm more than the top. Thank you for explaining what is happening anatomically in your last post.

Colleen Collins

I really enjoy this stretch but am no longer able to do it like I used to, my right shoulder no longer appreciates internal rotation but I find I can do the pose as long as I round my shoulder forward to bring my arm behind my back and don’t try to draw the shoulder back once I get there. Thanks for sharing.


Great blog! I will teach this to my clients who work at desk all day.

Wei Yao

i like this arm exercise a lot !I can do this as warm up and also i can do it after the exercise .its really help me to get ready for work and release the arm muscle tension .


I agree with a lot of comments below that this pose is not taught enough simply because of its difficulty for many students. I, like many of you, had difficulty and implemented a strap to connect my two hands. After time (6-7 months) i was gradually able to walk my hands closer and closer together on the strap and then eventually interlock! What a great feeling…


After exercising the arms today in the YTU master class with Jill, I definitely appreciate this stretch. My external rotators of the shoulder, specifically my infraspinatus, and my triceps needed this stretch. Thanks for sharing

Abigail Stevenson

I have to agree with Anya that the Cow Face Pose is a little challenging in the beginning. It’s also much easier on my right shoulder than my left. It is a really great shoulder opener and for me, it’s a great stretch right before and after I go for a run. It helps to remind me that I need to keep my shoulders back and strong when I run.


A little challenging at first to get into the stretch, but it does help to open up the shoulders.
I like doing it if I have to spend a lot of time at the desk, it changes the whole day and keeps the shoulder joint refreshed.

Ann F

I very seldom teach this pose in class, due to the fact that most students are limited intheir ROM and end up pushing themselves into the pose. Watching Jill’s video, instructing the students to go into the easier arm placements will help them increase their range and prepare for future work. Thank you!


You’re welcome, Angie! I’m so happy that you are feeling the benefits from this great pose. I too love the feeling of the block modification.


I found your cue to internally rotate along with Jill’s instruction of rolling the shoulder down and back to be extremely helpful. My right shoulder has always had limited mobility and this made a world of difference for me. I also appreciate the modification with a block you mention in your comment. In my body I noticed much more stability in both the GH & ST joint when trying this. Thank you!

Katy Forline

As a massage therapist I have been a bit lazy about taking care of my own shoulder joints and frankly the infraspinatus has been a blind spot. Thanks for the reminder. I also appreciate the comments about rolling out the anterior rotator cuff additionally in order to facilitate this pose.


Yes, the YTU therapy balls are great for rolling out the fascia of any of the muscles involved in the pose. I love the rolling out the Pectoralis muscles, and I like to use the wall to roll out my infraspinatus and supraspinatus too. It’s so great to use the therapy balls before doing the pose.

Kaiitrin Doll

I love this stretch, I do it at my desk when I find myself starting to hunch over my computer. I find it helpful to use my Yoga Tune Up balls to roll out my pectoral muscles before going into the full pose, this way I can get a much deeper into the stretch because the chest is more open and I have more rotation of the shoulder.


I am with you, Elizabeth, I do this pose daily and teach it often! I also work with private clients in their 70’s as well as older students who come to my group classes. I always offer the option to use a yoga strap for students with less range of motion. The strap is useful so that they can do the same movement while finding ease in the pose. Most people I find will benefit from a strap on their non-dominant side. When teaching in a gym or other venue where yoga props are not available, students can use a… Read more »

Elizabeth Whissell

I love working with cow face arms during study breaks or while standing in line at the grocery store. I am quite mobile so the variations that Jill presents in the video are completely accessible for me. I struggle with this pose as a teacher. One of my students (a 72 year old woman who has been sedentary most of her life) cannot bring her arms anywhere near this pose. In fact, she cannot even place the back of her hand on her back in the internally rotated hand behind the back position. Is there a comparable position for individuals… Read more »