Garudasana: Eagle Pose

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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.

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.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

  • Standing figure four (half chair) | Ardha utkatasana
  • Warrior III | Virabhadrasana III
  • Eagle-leg side crow

COUNTER POSES:

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.


Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) is a great way to strengthen the upper back and is often practiced as part of a transition back to downward-facing dog in vinyasa yoga. Practicing cobra pose regularly can improve your lung capacity, reduce stress, and stimulate many of the internal organs in your body.

Philosophy + Origin

Although often perceived as evil or dangerous, snakes also have a rich history of power and worship. In some yoga traditions, the energy of kundalini is represented by a serpent resting coiled at the base of the spine. By awakening this snake, we enliven our body’s energy and create a pathway towards enlightenment. This connection with enlightenment is also seen in many portrayals of the Buddha where he is shown with a cobra over his head.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Option to swap cobra pose for sphinx pose by placing your forearms on the floor.
  • Lengthen the back of the neck to avoid straining the neck and upper back.
  • If you experience discomfort in the lower back, bend the elbows more.
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