Eagle Pose, Garudasana, (guh-ruu-daa-suh-nuh)
garuda (eagle) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Garudasana
Pose Type: Stretching, Strengthening, Twisting, Balancing, Standing
Eagle pose will test your flexibility, concentration, strength, and desire to endure
Eagle Pose Fundamentals
Fly like an eagle in this strong pose that’ll be sure to leave you feeling invigorated, strong, and free. Eagle pose will challenge your sense of balance and push you to find integrity in your body rather than crumpling for the sake of the twist.
What comes to mind when you think of an eagle? Is it their large wings and bodies soaring in the sky? Their laser-sharp bird of prey focus and gaze? Or is it their grace, beauty, and power? Whatever it may be, it’s safe to say most of us revere these magnificent birds for what they represent and embody.
For hundreds of years, people from all over the world have seen eagles as a symbol of freedom, tenacity, determination, beauty, and courage.
Beginner yogis come into this pose intimidated by its pretzel looking shape and experienced yogis embrace it ready to dominate it regardless of how it might feel in their body. But we must not lose our connection to this pose because we want to “do it right”. Instead, allow yourself to reach new heights in your yoga practice by exploring Eagle Pose with freedom and grace.
However, when beads of sweat drip from your forehead and you are standing strong, looking straight ahead, focused, and balanced on one leg – the feeling is nothing short of a glorious eagle soaring in the sky.
Embody your best and most beautiful Garuda by nurturing it with patience, tenderness, and care. This will in turn allow you to reap all the benefits it has to offer. From toning our core, improving our posture, and building strong legs, Eagle Pose has benefits for the entire body, mind, and spirit.
Whether we know it or not, when we come to yoga we practice one-pointed concentration (Dhāraṇā) and Eagle Pose is the ideal pose to practice this limb of yoga. When we feel like we are going to fall and lose our grip, Eagle Pose invites us to find our center, focus, and look forward.
With so many things asking for attention in life it can be a struggle to focus and shine awareness on the things that truly matter.
But don’t cage your inner eagle, which can see where its attention needs to go. Instead, find your tenacious nature and rise up strong and poise as you balance between Sthira (effort) and Sukha (ease) in this standing twist pose.
Eagle Pose Symbolism
Garuda is not actually an eagle though, it is a mythical, magical bird in Hindu and Buddhist mythology that carries Lord Vishnu over the mountain tops and never once needs to land because it knows how to ride the wind.
Eagle Pose Benefits
- Improves posture by creating whole-body awareness of the spine and broadening the neck, shoulders, chest and upper back.
- Targets and compresses all major joints: hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, and wrists creating elasticity and softening hardened fascia.
- Improves balance and cultivates sharp focus/ concentration abilities.
- Tones the core and back muscles that support the spine.
- Strengthens your thighs, legs, calves, and ankles.
- Stimulates and releases the flow of fresh blood throughout the body.
How To Do Eagle Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Start in Mountain Pose with the feet together, keeping a slight gap (about an inch) between your heels. Root down through all four corners of the feet. A firm foundation is key.
2. Slowly start to inch your hips back like you are coming into chair pose (Utkatasana), lengthening the spine as if you were coming to sit on an imaginary chair.
3. Slow and with control swing the right elbow under the left elbow making a letter X with your arms and bringing them to intertwine. If possible bring your two palms to touch otherwise simple interlace the fingers.
4. Reconnect to your foundation as you root down through the soles of your feet. Slowly shift your weight to the left leg (think tree pose) and peel the right foot off the ground, cross your right thigh over the left and tuck the toes of your right foot behind your left calf. Root down firmly through the sole of the left foot.
5. Notice if your right hip shifted and try to bring it back into alignment with the left. If your upper back rounds, find an expansive lift through the upper body by lifting the elbows, lengthening the tailbone, and growing up tall through the spine.
6. Stay here for 5-7 breaths, feeling the stretch in your upper back and finding strength in the legs. Return to Tadasana, and repeat on the other side.
Tips And Tricks:
- If you find it hard to balance on your standing leg while hooking your top-leg foot behind your standing-leg calf, instead try pressing the big toe of your top-leg foot against the floor as a stand to help maintain your balance and keep your hips in alignment.
- If you are unable to bring your palms together, bring the backs of your palms together and interlace the backs of your fingers.
- If you’re losing balance, try leaning your upper body back more
- Once you have come into the full expression of the pose see if you can relax your jaw and unfurrow your brow.
Eagle Pose Variations:
Eagle Pose With A Chair
Try using a chair to embody this pose from the comfort of a chair and to make it easier to maintain a solid foundation and balance. Cross one leg over and hook it foot behind the calf of your rooted leg then cross your arms at the elbows bringing the palms to kiss.
Eagle Pose With A Block
If you find it difficult to balance in this pose while hooking your top leg foot behind the calf of your standing leg try using a block to place under your top leg’s big toe to bring the ground closer to you and better support you.
Precautions & Contraindications:
The tendency in this pose might be to slump or round the shoulders in this pose. Try lifting the elbows to help you avoid slumping or hunching in the upper back but make sure your fingertips don’t go too past eye level.
The hips might swivel to one side when you hook the top leg under the calf of the standing leg. Try instead to leave your top leg unhooked behind the calf and use your big toe as a kickstand or try it on a chair.
Shoulder or Elbow Injury
If suffering from a shoulder or elbow injury or recovering from surgery it’s best to avoid this pose and opt for prayer hands instead.
Hip, Knee, or Foot Injury
If suffering from any kind of leg, knee, or foot injury it’s best to avoid this pose as it will put a lot of pressure on the hip and knee joints.
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Setu Bandha Konasana (Bridge Pose)
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