Gorakshasana - The Cowherd




Gorakshasana (गोरक्षासन gorakṣāsana). Chinese: 牧牛式.  Cowherd, or Goatherd. Gorakşa is the name of one of the two sages who compiled the Hathayoga science during the Middle Age; Matsyendra is the name of the other sage

Go-raksha, f. tending or keeping of cattle, cattle-breeding, pastoral life



Compare Mayasana (Illusion), Gomukhasana (Cow-Face) and Gorakshasana (Cowherd)



In the beginning, it is about a seating Mayasana posture to which breathing control is associated. In the classic version, the legs are crossed, one knee on top of the other and the foot on the side of the opposite hip. At first, the hands grasp the sole of the feet on the same side.

In this posture, the gaze is in Shambavi Mudra. However according to the breathing exercise, the eyelids are closed and the eyes are medial in Maddya Drishti. The tongue is in Kaki Mudra and Mula Bandha is active throughout the pose.

The breathing can then switch to Samavritti. In this situation, breathing occurs only through the nostrils. Upon inhalation, the air is visualized originating from a white external point located at the level of the heart and passing in the depth of the throat to reach the inner red point still at the level of the heart. The nasal exhalation uses the inverse visualization.

The breathing rhythm starts with 4/4/4/4 and can progressively go up to 10/10/10/10. The switch from one rhythm to the next one is determined by the comfort during the empty-lung retention.

The posture is then inversed (crossing of the legs) and the same procedures are applied.

Crossed version


In this version, the same procedures are applied. However, the tongue goes out of the mouth and forms a tube only during inhalation.

This version is more demanding but hides secrets linked to the legendary siddha Gorksha. For this reason, this posture is also called Guptasana गुप्त असन (Secrets posture).