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.
Like many people who often suffer from migraines, or a migraine “attack”, I know first-hand how debilitating they can be. A migraine can be defined as a recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. The excruciating pain that migraines bring can last for hours or even days. Migraine is a common problem affecting about 36 million Americans, or roughly 12% of the population. Migraines rank in the top 20 of the world's most disabling medical illnesses.
Migraine attacks can sometimes be so severe that some people may have to abandon their regular routine for three or four days at a time. The attack can last a couple of hours to several days and has a tendency to recur. Other symptoms such as nausea, blurred vision, loss of appetite, and fatigue may also be present. According to Ayurveda, migraine headaches are due to a disorder in tridosha, disorders in vata, pitta, or kapha, migraines frequently occur when systemic pitta moves into the cardiovascular system, circulates, and affects the blood vessels around the brain. Yoga is an activity that focuses on postures and breathing exercises. It is an excellent way to get rid of stress and also a great way to help you feel more relaxed and keep you flexible. Out of those three advantages the one you want to focus on is stress, a common migraine trigger.
Here are 4 yoga poses that may help to alleviate migraine pain:
Tadasana or Mountain Pose: Tadasana is the beginning pose for most of the standing asanas.
Benefits: Tadasana stretches the body and lengthens the spine and enhances its flexible; it also increases overall body balance and improves focus.
Virabhadrasana I or Warrior I Pose: Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with hands beside the body. Now place the left foot a good distance from the body. Bend the left leg from the knee so that the thigh becomes parallel to the ground. Now take both hands joined at the palm and raise them straight above the head. Now bend the entire body above waist and the head towards the back. Look up or backwards. Stay in this position for 1 minute. Now inhale and while exhaling bring down both the hands. Then straighten the knee and stand in Tadasana. Rest for 1 minute and repeat the otherside.
Benefits: In Virabhadrasana, the body is stretched in the opposite direction and various muscles and joints of the spine, legs and waist are stretched which increases the mobility of the body parts; thus improving blood circulation. Additionally the stomach and abdominal organs get extended and hence their functioning improves.
Trikonasana or Triangle Pose: Stand in Tadasana. Place the left leg at a good distance from the right towards the left. Inhale and while exhaling bring down the left hand touch the left toe with the left palm. Now raise the right hand straight above the head. Keep the head steady and look at the right hand. Hold in this position for 1 minute. Inhale and while exhaling bring down the right hand and raise the left hand and stand in Tadasana. Rest for 1 minute and repeat on the right side.
Benefits: In Trikonasana one side is stretched and other side is contracted. This helps in overall blood circulation, stretching key body organs, joints and muscles thus improving their mobility.
Vrikshasana or Tree Pose: Begin in Tadasana. Now raise the left leg and press the palm of the leg to the right thigh. Exhale and while inhaling take both hands and raise them above the head touching the ears and join the palms above the head. Stay in this position for 1 minute. Inhale and while exhaling bring both hands and the leg down and stand in Tadasana. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Vrikshasana improves overall body balance and helps in toning and relaxing the muscles and the joints thus improving their mobility.
While eating healthy is a great way to enhance your well-being, taking a holistic view of cleansing your system means being aware of your body at a more subtle level. That’s where the practice of yoga comes in. The alternate stretching and tightening of your muscles in yoga not only helps stimulate your digestive system, but also helps your circulatory system work more efficiently.
Yoga asanas help the lymphatic system collect and remove unwanted substances. And, the mind-body nature of a yoga practice can help trigger calming responses in the brain. Yoga is also useful for detoxifying your thinking. Every time you tell yourself about your tight hamstrings, bad balance or weak arms, you feed your mind a diet of negative thoughts. That can be a toxic way of thinking. Making the choice to practice means you believe in yourself enough to take on the challenge of whatever yoga class or at-home practice offers. Somewhere inside, you know you can move forward and grow. The more you focus on a positive attitude, the easier it will be to remove the old thought patterns that hold you back and limit you.
These 4 poses will help your digestive system. Try them the next time you feel bloated or sluggish.
1. High lunge twist
Begin in high lunge with right foot forward.
Place your hands in a prayer position at the center of your chest. Take a deep inhale, using your thumbs to slightly lift your chest.
Use your exhale to engage your abdomen and twist your torso to the right.
Place your left elbow outside of your right thigh. Breathe for at least three deep breaths
Repeat on the other side.
Strengthens the quadriceps and gluteus muscles
Stimulates abdominal organs
Improves digestion and elimination
Stretches the psoas and hips
Relieves sciatica pain
Develops stamina and endurance in your thighs
Improves your balance, concentration and core awareness
2. 1-Legged Downward Dog
From Downward-Facing Dog extend one foot up to the sky while the opposite foot is rooted into the earth.
The hips are squared and the toes are active.
The forehead reaches for the earth as the shoulder blades move back (opening the heart area).
The gaze is towards the belly button.
Stay for 5-7 breaths, then lower your leg
Repeat on other side.
Calms the brain
Helps relieve stress and mild depression
Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with the head supported
Helps prevent osteoporosis
Relieves headaches, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
And it is therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, and sinusitis
Strengthens the glutes, arms, and core
3. Plank Pose
Start in pushup position with your hands under your shoulders, arms perpendicular to the floor
Engage your abdominal wall and draw it slightly in
Press the front of your thighs up toward the ceiling
Lengthen the back of the neck and looks down at the floor (keeping throat and eyes soft).
Breathe for 5 breaths or more
Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine
Tones the abdomen, strengthens the core
4. Boat Pose (modified)
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back slightly (make sure your back doesn’t round)
Keep your arms straight out in front of you with arms parallel to the floor
Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor
Slowly straighten your knees (for a modified version, keep your knees bent), raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes
Stay in the pose for 10-20 seconds. Gradually increase the time of your stay to 1 minute
Release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.
Strengthens and tones the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine
Stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines
Helps relieve stress
When I first started practicing yoga, the simplest of balancing poses would have me teetering over again and again. There are days when I still do. What I’ve found is that the balance that I can maintain on my yoga mat is directly related to the balance I am experiencing in my life. With too much coffee, or lack of sleep, sugar and stress, I don’t stand a chance. That said, it seems to work both ways. Bringing my awareness to finding balance in my body helps translate that sense of awareness into other areas of my life.
Here are 3 beginner yoga poses to help you start bringing the idea of balance into your life:
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): This posture sounds simple, but it forms the foundation of all other poses. Standing with your feet hip distance apart, spread all ten toes and ground down through your feet. Let it feel as though you are drawing the energy up your legs, igniting your muscles. Draw your belly in towards your spine, staying strong in your core, your tailbone dripping down towards your heels. Lift up through the crown of your head, and actively reach your fingertips down towards the ground. Close your eyes and notice how, even here, a seemingly simple standing at attention, balance is in constant negotiation.
2. Vrksasana (Tree Pose): Rock your weight into your right leg; feel the shift. Let the sole of your other foot find a home as high up on your left leg as possible, anywhere but on the knee joint. You may start with your right toes on the earth and heel on your left ankle, working towards the sole of your right foot coming high up into your left thigh. Wherever it is, let your standing leg press actively back into your right foot, your right knee opening up. Draw your palms together in front of your heart in prayer. Spend a few breaths here. If you’d like, you can grow your arms long into the sky. Stay until you lose your balance or your standing leg gives out (enjoy the tumble!), switching sides.
3. High Lunge Pose (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana): From a low lunge with your right leg forward, back heel lifted, press into both feet and inhale to lift your torso, arms reaching toward the sky. Sink into your right knee (no further than knee-over-ankle), with your back leg super strong, thigh lifted and heel reaching back. Make sure your ribs aren’t sticking out, draw your navel in and your tailbone down. Stay here with your breath.
A few thing to keep in mind:
You must be fully present to balance, and one thing that will take you away from the moment is judgment. No matter how many times you fall, remember, it’s no big deal; it’s just practice! Trust that you will eventually get there; the self-aggrandized thoughts do not serve you. Let your gaze (drishti) be focused onto one thing, and maintain it. Remember to breathe.
If you are wondering what the connection is between yoga and sex you are not alone. Many people automatically think that there can’t be a connection there. But, it is important to know that yoga can help you have better sex. In fact, many people including fitness instructors, and medical professionals recommend yoga for improved intimacy.
What is important to remember is that being fit in general is likely to give you more self-confidence. When your self-confidence levels are high, your satisfaction in the bedroom will automatically increase. It will still actually increase even if the sex doesn’t change at all! How amazing is that? Practicing yoga and exercising in general can also provide a better awareness of your body. This is important to having a good sex life. You may notice things about your body when you practice yoga, or just stretch. You can begin to better understand your body, its flexibility, and your limits. This alone can help to improve your sex life.
The art of yoga relies on body awareness, body movement, and breathing. Many experts say that these three components are important to having healthy intimacy levels. In fact, did you know that by practicing yoga, your sex life will improve even if it wasn’t your goal or the main purpose for you taking up yoga?
As previously stated, when you have better body awareness, you are more likely to enjoy sex. Body awareness is one of the many foundations that yoga is built on. Being aware of your body can help to give you a better image of yourself, which can, in turn, increase your sex drive and ignite passion.
As for the breathing in yoga, it is so much more than just taking a breath while sitting on the couch at home. The breathing that yoga calls for actually helps to make your spine and your pelvis stronger. What does this mean for intimacy? It can result in better action and movement. You may find yourself being able to have sex longer. Your ability to try new sex positions also improves.
If your significant other isn’t currently practicing yoga, encourage them to try it! Practicing yoga together can also be quite rewarding.
Try these five poses to add a little zing to your sex life:
1. Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana): Improves libido by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region.
2. Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana): Reverses blood flow, decreases anxiety and stress, relaxes mind and body.
3. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana): Helps to lessen PMS and menopause symptoms and promotes healthy functioning of the reproductive organs.
4. Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana): As you move through cat/cow, the kegel muscles strengthen as they work to control the tailbone. Strong, healthy kegel muscles produce better, more controlled orgasms.
5. Cobra (Bhujangasana): A, It’s a heart opener. The pose opens the heart chakra, opening it to the possibilities of love. B, it’s an energizing pose, which is good for those who are often too tired for sex.
*This article was previously published by me for Gaia.com
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