Gorakshasana is one of the advanced seated yoga postures 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 Sampradaya who belongs to 10th Century CE. Hence, this yoga posture has a history of more than a thousand years.
|English Name||Cowherd Pose|
|Origin||Medieval Yoga Period|
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 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 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 Sampradaya 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 the supramental 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.
Safety and Precautions
People with issues 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.
The following postures prepare one for Goraknath Pose.
Sit in Dandasana
Bend the knees. Draw the feet towards the perineum. Keep the soles and heels together.
Hold the feet. Raise the heels up and place the balls of the soles on the floor bending the toes. The feet should be vertical and the knees should touch the floor. Torso, neck, and head should be in one line making an upright seated posture.
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 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 gets mastery, one may go for an easier version which is similar to Baddha Konasana. In the easier version, instead of keeping the feet vertical, one may place it horizontally by placing the heels under the perineum.
The benefits of Goraknath Pose are as follow.
- This Pose is a very good yoga posture meditation and Tantra yoga practice.
- It redirects the Apana upwards to the higher Chakras that aids in Kundalini awakening.
- The joints of the legs and lower back become more flexible.
- This posture is good for the conservation of Sexual energy.
Gorakshasana In Yoga Texts
Goraknath Pose in Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes yoga postures that include Bhadrasana. Place the ankles below the genitals on the sides of the perineum: left ankle on the right side and the 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.