(Garudasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Level – Intermediate

Eagle Pose

(Garudasana)

Eagle Pose Prep & Practice

1

Beginning in Mountain pose (Tadasana) at the top of the mat. On an inhalation, arms sweep out by sides, parallel to floor, and as you exhale arms move forward, crossing in front of the body, right arm under left. Bend elbows bringing backs of hands to touch or wrapping forearms and bringing palms to touch. Draw forearms slightly away from your body and up.

2

On an exhalation, bend the knees coming into Chair pose (Utkatasana). Root into the left foot, focussing your gaze slightly down and a few feet in front of you. Take a few breaths here, finding your focus as you prepare for the pose.

3

When you feel ready, begin to lift the right leg up and over the left thigh (crossing legs). Right toes can rest on the mat, a block or wrap behind the left calf.

4

Low abs firm in and up, knitting front ribs finding length in the front, sides and back of torso. Arms and legs energetically squeeze in toward midline.

5

Breath is steady, legs, abdominals and arms energized and engaged, soften tops of shoulders away from ears.

6

To come out of the pose, on an inhalation unwrap arms and legs, rising to Mountain (Tadasana). Prepare for the second side.

Variations/Modifications

  • Practice with back to a wall (balance issues)
  • Bring hands onto opposite shoulders instead of wrapping forearms
  • Use block beneath raised foot

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Detoxifying
  • Improves concentration and increases clarity
  • Strengthens the legs
  • Promotes digestion 
  • Strengthens and stretches calves and ankles
  • Develops willpower

Contraindications

  • Difficulty Standing 
  • Balance Issues (see modifications)
  • Shoulder Injury 
  • Knee injury

Thoughtful Sequencing

Mountain (Tadasana), Extended Standing Pose (Urdhva Hastasana), Extended Side Bend right and left, Chair (Utkatasana), Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), Mountain (Tadasana), Eagle (Garudasana) right and left, end Mountain (Tadasana)

A Few Notes

Eagle pose (Garudasana) is great for increasing concentration, loosening the muscles between the shoulder blades, and strengthening the leg muscles. This posture is used to develop the Third Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra) and should be given a moment of awareness following the posture.

If your shoulder blades are too tight or you have pain in your upper body with your arms crossed, then you can simply cross your arms over your chest instead. When the left leg is your based, bring your left arm across your chest and place your left hand on your right shoulder. Do the same with your right arm, but over the top of the left arm. When you switch sides, simply switch your arms.

Alternatively, you can fold your arms in front of you, holding your left elbow with your right hand and holding your right elbow with your left hand.

For advanced practitioners, you can move out of eagle pose into a high lunge or lunge twist. To move into high lunge, take your top leg back and plant the ball of your foot down. Keeping your front knee bent and your torso leaning forward, slowly twist so that your opposite knee and elbow meet. If you’re starting with your left knee on the bottom in eagle pose, then you would step the right leg back and twist your body to the left, placing your right elbow on the outer part of your left knee. Move your arms into prayer position (Anjali mudra) and hold. Repeat on the other side.

Want more yoga pose tutorials? See more in my Yoga Pose Directory.

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