Gorakshasana (Cowherd Pose) registers as 10* on the 60* scale of difficulty. According to Iyengar’s scale, this is the most difficult pose I’ve done thus far in the project. I don’t doubt Iyengar’s assessment. Gorakshasana is tough! Iyengar says, “It is a difficult balancing pose and one feels elated even if one can only balance for a few seconds.” No doubt, balancing in this pose is a great challenge. I managed to balance just long enough to capture it on film.
Iyengar’s instructions don’t offer many tips for achieving balance within the pose. From Padmasana, he guides you to place your hands on the floor and lift your hips up, then “Stretch the trunk up vertically and stand with the top part of the knees on the floor. Stretch the thighs and balance gradually by lifting the hands one by one from the floor.” As anyone who’s tried Gorakshasana knows, this approach may increase the likelihood of falling back onto your hands, since so much of your body weight is leaning forward in this position.
If you practice Padmasana comfortably, but still have trouble reaching Gorakshasana, seat yourself one foot away from a wall as you set up for the pose. As Iyengar instructs, place both hands on the ground and lift your hips up. Then, once you’ve stretched your torso up as much as you can, lightly bring your left hand to touch the wall behind you. Take your right hand away from the floor. When you feel stable, gently draw your left hand away from the wall and bring your hands to touch in prayer. You’ve made it! Enjoy the pose – even if only for one brief, glorious moment.