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, red wings, and the beak of a bird. 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.
- As you work on improving your balance, try practicing this pose with the aid of a wall or chair
- If keeping your lifted foot off the floor is too challenging, you can 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 a deeper stretch, hinge forward from your hips, then move your elbows towards your knees
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:
- Knee injuries
- Late term pregnancy
One of the essential steps to practicing this pose is allowing yourself to become very aware, both physically and mentally. The more absorbed you can be with the pose and its effects, the more benefits you will gain. Allow your awareness to direct how far you go into the pose, listening to your body and making small adjustments as needed to find the right amount of stretch and difficulty.
- Begin in Mountain Pose, Tadasana. Raise your right foot off the ground, bending your standing leg slightly. Directing your attention to your left foot, equally distribute the weight to help create a solid foundation. Cross your right thigh over your left, reaching your right foot back with toes pointing down. Hook the top of your right foot at the back of the left calf. The deeper you bend your standing leg, the more accessible this position becomes.
- Reach your arms forward so that they are even with the floor. Expand through your upper back as you cross your arms, bringing the left arm on top of the right. Bend your elbows as you bring your forearms perpendicular to the ground. You can allow the backs of your hands to touch or bring your palms together, keeping the elbows and forearms crossed.
- Reach through your fingers as you press your hands together to increase the stretch through your upper back, scapulae, and shoulders.
- Stay in Garudasana for 20 to 30 seconds with steady breathing before unwinding the arms and legs and returning to Mountain Pose. Begin on the other side.
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- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Supta Virasana
- Supta Baddha Konasana
- Adho Mukha Vrksasana
- Garuda = mythical bird, vehicle of Lord Vishnu
- Asana = pose
- Strengthen thighs, ankles, and calves
- Stretches shoulders, arms, and upper back
- Improves balance and coordination
- Develops focus and concentration
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 this mudra. To practice anjali mudra, bring the palms of your hands together at your heart center.
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