Eagle Pose looks like your stereotypical idea of a crazy, twisted-up-like-a-pretzel yoga pose, but it’s actually not as difficult as it looks. It is a balance challenge, but since the limbs are drawn into the body and the bent knees, the centre of gravity is low. This makes Eagle Pose less precarious that most poses where you’re standing on one leg. It also works the difficult to access glutes and inner thighs. In addition, the pose is a great shoulder stretch.
The standing Eagle Pose strengthens your calves, ankles, thighs, and hips as you build your balance and core strength. It helps you develop better concentration. Some people find it beneficial for a low backache or sciatica.
Eagle Pose is truly an antidote for the shoulder strain you feel when you have been sitting at a computer for long hours. You can do eagle arms a few times a day while seated as part of a desk yoga routine to unkink your shoulders or immediately after your yoga warm up.
Some people like to learn by reading instructions – so here are the steps we take to get into Eagle Pose. Of course I will talk you through it in class and demonstrate as required as well…
Begin in Awkward Chair Pose (Utkatasana) with both legs bent and your arms by your sides. Alternatively, start by standing with soft knees.
- Transfer your weight into your left foot.
- Lift your right foot up off the floor.
- Cross your right thigh over your left thigh as high up the thigh as possible.
- Hook your right foot around your left calf or place the right big toe on the floor for balance.
- Bring both arms out to the sides at shoulder height.
- Give yourself a hug. (Whichever leg is on top, the opposite arm should be on top.) Then pivot the forearms at the elbow try to hook your hands together.
- Lift the elbows to the height of your shoulders while keeping the shoulders sliding down away from your ears.
- Keep your spine at right angles to the floor and the crown of the head rising.
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Although Garudasana is translated to “eagle pose” in English, Garuda is actually the name for a divine creature. In South Asia, a Garuda is a huge, mythical bird with the golden body of a man, a white face, red wings, and an eagle’s beak. He is the king of the bird community, the enemy of snakes, and the friend of humans. Garuda is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, the aspect of divinity which sustains the universe and takes birth as a man.
When you obtain balance in this pose consider –
What qualities do I need to maintain this pose?
What is my breathing like?
How do my muscles and joints feel?
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the mythical bird ‘Garuda’ take a look at this website