HOW TO PRACTICE Eagle Pose IN YOGA (Garudasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Eagle Pose
Eagle Pose (Sanskrit name: Garudasana) is a standing balance yoga pose that requires a great deal of strength, endurance, and patience. The yoga posture is named after the Hindu god Garuda, who was said to be half man and half eagle.
As the story goes, after hatching from his egg Garuda was so enormous the other gods begged him to become smaller. As Garuda was known to be able to make himself larger and smaller at will, he happily complied. In Buddhist tradition his wingspan was said to be 40-miles wide. When Garuda flaps his large wings, he dries up the ocean to reveal sea monsters that he then devours.
Seen from the outside, Eagle Pose appears bound and coiled up, not unlike Garuda himself. The yoga practitioner is, in a way, shrinking at will. In order to enter the asana, however, you must reach your arms out to their full wingspan, stretching as wide as possible before drawing your expansive reach in toward a static and contracted yoga posture. It is a pose of strength, humility, and self-control.
If you have difficulty bringing your arms or legs fully into the twists required, you’ll find some fun variations in the Yoga 2.0 tab that may be more suited to your body.
Benefits of Eagle Pose
Garudasana strengthens the ankles, calves, thighs, and glutes. For some, it may help relieve sciatica. When done with the full Garuda arm position, this yoga pose creates more space between the shoulder blades, releasing and relieving tension that is commonly held there.
This yoga posture awakens and frees the back body, affording a sense of space and buoyancy where our wings, if we had them, would attach. Despite the twisted nature of the limbs, the spine should remain in neutral and at its full length throughout the asana. Practicing Eagle Pose can help develop structural stability and improved balance.
The focused attention necessary to maintain steady balance in Eagle Pose can help cultivate a calm mind and increase mental clarity.
Basic Eagle Pose
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet hips-distance apart. Bend both knees as if you were moving into Utkatasana (Fierce Pose or Chair Pose).
- Shift your weight onto your left foot, and lift your right foot off the ground.
- Cross your right leg over your left leg.
- Draw your right lower leg back and to the outside of your left lower leg, wrapping your right ankle and foot around the back of your left leg. If you are not able to wrap your foot all the way wrapped around your lower leg, try to bring your right foot to the ground and then lift it any amount you can. Placing a yoga block under the ball of your right foot is another option.
- Sit down into your hips, keeping them as level as possible, and ground your weight actively through your left foot.
- Once you are stable in your lower body, reach both arms out wide to the side.
- Swing your arms forward and wrap your right arm underneath your left arm, trying to work your forearms around one another, just as you did with your legs. The goal is to have the fingers of your left hand in contact with your right palm.
- Stay for several breaths, focusing on finding your balance and steadying your mind.