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Garudasana: Eagle Pose


Eagle pose, or garudasana (gah-rue-DAHS-anna), requires a combination of balance, strength, and flexibility. A great stretch for your shoulders, upper back, and legs, garudasana creates space in your body physically, but also opens up space mentally. To sustain the posture, you must give it your full attention and commitment, drawing your mind to one singular point of focus.

Philosophy + Origin

Although commonly known as eagle pose, the word “garuda” in Sanskrit really refers to a great mythical bird, one with a golden body, white face, and red wings. The king of all birds, Garuda is the vehicle of choice for Lord Vishnu, who serves as the preserver and protector of humans and creation. Garuda is the bird who managed to obtain the elixir of immortality, soma, in order to save his mother Vinata from enslavement.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Try this pose with your back or hand to a wall to support balancing.
  • Cross your legs while allowing the toes of your lifted leg to press into the floor for extra balance. This is also the recommended adjustment if you have knee issues.
  • For the hot style variation, pull your elbows down toward your naval.

CONTRAINDICATIONS:

  • Knee injuries.
  • Late term pregnancy.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. From standing, bend both of your knees. Raise your right foot off the ground, bending your standing leg slightly. Cross your right thigh over your left, reaching your right foot back with toes pointing down. Option to place your right toes on the ground or hook the top of your right foot at the back of the left calf.
  2. Distribute the weight in your standing foot equally to help create a solid foundation.
  3. Cross your left elbow over your right and bend both elbows to bring forearms perpendicular to the ground. Rest the backs of your hands together or cross at the wrists to bring your palms together.
  4. Lift your elbows up to shoulder height and away from you to increase the stretch through your upper back, scapulae, and shoulders.
  5. Stay in Garudasana for 20 to 30 seconds with steady breathing. Release the posture and return to standing to repeat on the other side.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Bridge pose | Setu bandha sarvangasana
  • Dancer pose | Natarajasana
  • Handstand | Adho Mukha Vrksasana
  • Headstand | Sirsasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Garuda = mythical bird, vehicle of Lord Vishnu
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Strengthens thighs, ankles, and calves.
  • Stretches shoulders, arms, and upper back.
  • Improves balance and coordination.
  • Helps flush lymphatic system.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Develops focus and concentration.
  • Moves “stuck” energy.

MANTRA:

“YAM”

Reciting the bija mantra “YAM” for the heart chakra is a powerful way to increase steadiness and focus in this pose while maintaining a sense of calm strength.

MUDRA: Anjali mudra

Garuda is often depicted with four hands, two of which are often shown in anjali mudra. To practice this mudra, bring the palms of your hands together at your heart center.

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