Garudasana can be performed on your back, sitting in a chair, or standing. It is helpful to do eagle arms and eagle legs separately for the first few times. Garudasana or eagle pose has many benefits for the full body. It not only quiets and centers the mind, it is capable of awakening awareness, creativity, and simultaneously strengthens the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
- Strengthens and lengthens the leg muscles
- Strengthens the ankles
- Lengthens the shoulder and upper back muscles
- Strengthens the lymph system
- Improves concentration
- Improves balance
- Energizes the entire body and all its systems
Eagle Arms: Lying down
Lying on back: extend your arms out to the sides. Inhale a full deep breath and bring your arms in front of your body stacking the right elbow over the left elbow bending at elbow and weaving your forearms and hands together. Arms are in front of your face. For a deeper opening in the shoulders and back, you can breathe deeply and lift the arms slightly higher, being mindful to keep the shoulders back and down. Breathe in and out full deep breaths through the nostrils.
Eagle Legs: Lying down
Laying on your back with arms intertwined; extend your legs toward the sky, inhale a full deep breath and then cross your left leg over your right, exhale bend knees and bring them towards your chest. Breathing full deep breathes keep your shoulders back and down, pressing forearms and hands together, and drawing the knees closer to your chest. Breathe 4-6 full deep breaths, saying to yourself, I am centered, I am strong, I am flexible like the wind.
Eagle Arms – Standing
Find a dristi point, or a point of focus standing in tadasana or mountain pose, bring your legs together so that the knees are touching and slightly bent. Standing upright, extend your arms out to the sides. Bring your arms in front of your body, palms and forearms together, hands are in front of your face. Bring your right elbow over the left, and then right hand wraps around to meet the left hand, palms together. Lift your elbows to shoulder height. Keep shoulders back and down, gently pressing forearms and hands together.
Eagle Legs – Standing
Standing with your feet and legs together, bend both knees slightly, as if sitting in a chair. Shift your weight to your right foot and cross your left leg over the right. Bring your toes around the calf near the ankle. It is important to keep your knees bent in order to achieve this. In either variation, remember to alternate sides, left arm over right, right leg over left. Either sitting or standing, remember to breathe into these asana’s for a minimum of three full deep breaths, build up to six breaths on each side.
You can also do this on a chair as I do with my senior students. If you are unable to tuck your toe underneath the ankle while sitting, standing, or in a chair, just allow your foot to rest at it’s side. Do not force or strain.
- Knee injury – focus on eagle arms
- Ankle injury – focus on eagle arms
- Shoulder injury – engage in eagle legs
- Hip injury or surgery – do eagle arms
- High blood pressure – try this in a chair
I am a woman who has recovered from two hip revisions and am able to perform Garudasana on my back, or in a chair. The most important ingredient when practicing yoga is to honor the needs of your body. Garudasana is challenging but can be mastered within a short period of time. Repeat this balancing posture on the opposite sides, either sitting, standing or in a chair.
In Vedic mythology, Garuda is the eagle god-half bird and half man. He is frequently shown carrying Vishnu, the god who maintains the universe. Garuda is known as the destroyer of obstacles to the fulfillment of desires. Develop the focused attention and balance required to master the eagle pose and obstacles will dissipate from your life.
Practice these balancing poses on a regular basis and in addition to mastering the postures, you will find it easier to maintain your balance in all situations in your life. There is no reason not to practice yoga. The skills gained during the practice of yoga translate into life skills. Everyone can benefit from greater balance in life.