Eagle pose (Garudasana) is one of the 84 original poses (asanas) listed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The pose is named after Garuda, “the mythic king of the birds” whose spirit helps him to overcome obstacles and discover his true potential. Significantly, this pose works to strengthen the body and improve concentration and awareness.
Begin by putting all your weight on your left leg. Bend your knees as though you are about to sit in a chair. Keep your spine extended long. Lift your right leg and place it across your left leg. It should start to look like you are sitting in a chair with your legs crossed.
If it is possible, your right thigh should be above your left knee. In time and with practice you will be able to hook your right ankle behind the left lower calf. If that is not possible, place the top of the right foot on the left calf or press it against the inner left calf. Take time to squeeze the inner thighs together. This will bring you into a more solid center.
Keep your hips squared to the front of the mat, and try to bend the left knee even deeper.
Bring your arms out to the side, cross your left elbow over the right in front and center of your body. Keep wrapping and twisting your arms until the palms come together. This full expression of the pose may take time and practice for your shoulders to open enough to perform it.
Relax your shoulders out of your ears, and keep the shoulders squared to the front of the mat just like your hips. Gently raise your elbows to shoulder height, and slowly press your hands toward the front of the mat until you feel a nice opening between your shoulders and deep in the joint. From the waist down feel your body sink. From the waist up lift and lengthen. Maintain the pose for several deep breaths, and slowly unwind the body and repeat on the other side.
Tips for Beginners
Modify this pose until you can reach the full posture.
1. If the balance is too much or you can’t hook your toes behind you, keep your toes on the ground or along the outside of your shin.
2. If you feel any pain in your shoulders, bring your palms and forearms together in front of you or stack your elbows and connect the top of your hands instead of your palms.
If you suffer from any knee problems, don’t try to hook the toe behind you. Instead, bend your knees slightly, or place one leg on top of the other without pain, do so while keeping your toe on the ground.
If you suffer from shoulder problems, follow the modifications listed above.
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