Get ready to challenge your strength, flexibility, and balance in Cowherd Pose…
Cowherd Pose (Gorakshasana or Gorakhasana) – also known as Yogi Goraksanath’s Pose – is an advanced-level yoga pose that challenges the lower body especially. This pose increases flexibility in the knees, ankles, and hips, strengthens the feet and legs, and is believed to enhance blood circulation, improve digestion and posture, calm the mind, and improve concentration. It also stimulates the Muladhara Chakra, and is said to stimulate sexual energy and awaken Kundalini.
There are several different variations of the pose, and some may be more challenging for some people than others, but you will want to take similar precautions for all of them.
While this is a traditional Hatha yoga pose, in the Iyengar yoga variation, the legs are positioned in Lotus Pose, with the weight resting on the knees instead of the feet (see this variation here). However, most Hatha yoga classes will teach it as described below.
There are also several ways to position the arms within the pose. You can press the hands together in front of the chest in Salutation Seal mudra, extend the arms overhead with palms pressed together, or even do “Eagle arms,” as pictured.
When first learning the pose, you may wish to keep the hands on the thighs or knees, or rest the fingertips on a block, chair, or wall for balance.
Those with knee problems, recent knee surgery, or foot or ankle injuries should avoid this one. This is an advanced pose, so to start, you should learn it under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.
How to Do Cowherd Pose:
- Sit with the legs outstretched in front in Staff Pose.
- Bend your knees, bring the feet in front of the groin, and place the soles of the feet together in Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose.
- Draw the heels up to the perineum.
- On an exhale, place your hands on the floor and press into them to begin lifting your body.
- Balance on the balls and toes of both feet, with your weight resting on the heels.
- Try to keep the knees down, touching the floor if possible.
- Once you are able to balance in the pose, slowly lift your hands and bring them to your heart center with palms pressed together, cross them beneath you and hold your opposite heels, or assume Eagle arms as shown in the picture.
- Straighten your spine and keep your gaze forward on a fixed point, or focus on the tip of your nose.
- To make the pose more challenging, you can close your eyes, or bring your arms straight up overhead.
- Hold the pose, while breathing slowly, for 1-2 minutes, then release by bringing your hands back to the floor and gently easing out of the pose.