In 2015 I’ll be highlighting a new posture each week. Find sequences, benefits, and archives here.
Did you know that a Garuda is not an Eagle? This mystical bird is large and powerful, sometimes depicted as part human. The Garuda is Vishnu’s vehicle. The Phoenix is thought to be an updated, more modern version of Garuda and both are held in reverence by mythology from many cultures.
Garudasana, now commonly called Eagle Pose, is also a powerful pose that forces you to turn deeply inward in order to radically open. There are variations in this pose between different traditions, my history is with the Iyengar lineage and my instructions for Eagle are in line with Iyengar yoga.
In Eagle Pose (Instructions for standing on your left leg):
- Reach your arms wide in a “T” then take your right arm under your left. (Whichever arm is on the bottom will be the leg on top).
- You can hold onto your shoulders, or take your fingertips towards the ceiling and hold your wrist, thumb or press your palms together.
- Cross your right leg on top of your left. Keep your left (standing) leg bent.
- Hug your right foot towards your left calf strongly. Hook your foot behind your left calf if you can, it’s totally fine not to (or even to place your right toes on the floor). Wherever your foot is, just hug in to help your thighs internally rotate.
- Square your hips to the front of your mat (They usually skew in the direction of your standing leg)
- Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
- You can deepen the shoulder stretch by lifting your elbows away from the floor and drawing your forearms away from you, just don’t let your shoulders ride up!
- Variation: For “Sleeping Eagle” (Sometimes “Crouching Eagle”), stick your bum way out and hook your elbows in front of your knees. Turn your head in towards your biceps and round your spine.
Yes, there’s a whole lot going on in this balancing posture. However, take it one step at a time and you will soon find yourself an Eagle pro.
This pose is one of my favorite balancing postures. I love the way it stretches my Trapezius, a muscle that is chronically tight for so many people. Here are all of Eagle’s benefits:
- Stretches and releases the shoulders and neck muscles
- Strengthens and tones the legs
- Improves balance and stability
- Can reduce cellulite
- Through the compression of many joints, your circulation is improved and toxins are flushed out of your joints and out of your system.
- Opens your hips.
- Stretches the IT bands gently
- Can relieve pain in the SI joint.
I think Eagle is at it’s best when you follow it up with long deep breaths standing in Tadasana. This allows you to really benefit from the improved circulation through all of your major joints.
Do you love or hate Eagle Pose? I’d love to know why!
Until next time, be well and live well,