Classic Yoga

Gorakshasana: Meaning, Steps, Benefits


Gorakshasana is one of the advanced seated yoga posture used for Meditation. Gheranda Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika describe this posture. It is said that this was the yoga posture used for meditation by Yogi Goraknath, one of the founders of Nath Sampradhaya who belongs to 10th Century CE. Hence, this yoga posture has a history of more than a thousand years.

Gorakshasana Information

Pose NameGorakshasana
English NameCowherd Pose
Goraknath Pose
OriginMedieval Yoga Period
TypeSeated Posture

Gorakshasana Meaning

Goraksha is one who is the protector of a cowherd or the protector of the earth. Furthermore, it also means the protector of the sense organs.

Therefore in English, some people call this Cowherd Pose. However, there is nothing directly related between this pose and a protector of a cow or cowherd. Maybe one may argue that this position resembles the posture and the attitude of a cow, but not definitely its protector. Hence it is not correct to call this pose by this name.

Likewise we cannot go with the second meaning (the protector of the earth) also. So we are left with the third meaning: the protector of sense organs. Of course, this meaning suits with the yoga pose. By mastering this yoga pose, the practitioner becomes the protector of sense organs.

No matter how, there is a widely accepted view: Gorakshasana gets its name because it was the preferred yoga pose of Yogi Goraknath. So, Goraknath Pose is the more relevant name than Cowherd Pose.

Who is Goraknath?

Goraknath, often called as Goraksha, is one of the great medieval yoga personalities. An earnest student of yoga should know about him and the literature behind him.

It is said that he is one of the founders of Nath Sampradhaya that is associated with a vast literature of Sanskrit and other vernacular languages. Lord Shiva is the permanent principle in the doctrine of Natha. The medieval Hatha Yoga texts are part of this literature.

However, the ultimate teaching of Goraknath was on the philosophy and practice of supra mental state of Samadhi experienced in the plane of consciousness.

The period of Goraknath is 10 Century CE. Yogi Matsyendranath was his Guru. Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati and Goraksha Sataka are his important works.

Gorakhasana Practice Procedure

Safety and Precautions

People with issue in their knees and lower back should avoid this pose. Furthermore, those who have sciatica pain and hernia should consult their doctor before attempting this posture.

Preparatory Postures

The following postures prepare one for Goraknath Pose.

Gorakshasana Steps

Step 1

Sit in Dandasana

Step 2

Bend the knees. Draw the feet towards the perineum. Keep the soles and heels together.

Step 3

Hold the feet. Raise the heels up and place the balls of the soles on the floor bending the toes. Feet should be vertical and knees should touch the floor. Torso, neck, and head should be in one line making an upright seated posture.

Step 4

Place the palms of the hands on the opposite heels. Close the eyes or keep the eyesight of the tip of the nose. Breathe normally. Keep the mind in between the eyebrows.


Keep the Step 4 as long as it is comfortable. The period may be from five minutes to three hours according to one’s capacity and practice.

Tips for the beginners

It is not easy for the beginner for mastering this posture. Until one get mastery, one may go for an easier version which is similar to Baddha Konasana. In the easier version, in stead of keeping the feet vertical, one may place it horizontal by placing the heels under the perineum.

Gorakshasana Benefits

The benefits of Goraknath Pose are as follow.

Gorakshasana In Yoga Texts

Goraknath Pose in Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes about yoga postures that includes Bhadrasana. Place the ankles below the genitals on the sides of perineum: left ankle on the right side and right one on the left side. Hold the feet by hand while sitting motionless on the heels. This is Bhadrasana that destroys every disease. Also, the adepts call it Gorakshasana.

Gorakshasana in Gheranda Samhita

Gheranda Samhita describes this yoga pose as below.

Turn both feet upwards between knees and thighs. Hide the ankles with hands turned upwards. Contract throat and keep the eyesight on the tip of the nose. This is Gorakshasana.

– Gheranda Samhita 2.24 and 2.25.

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