The eagle is used across cultures and traditions to symbolize ultimate freedom, and yoga is no exception! Garuda mudra – the mudra, or energy seal, of the eagle – is a powerful gesture that evokes our ability to rise to any challenge and soar far beyond it by balancing our Air element.
Mudras of all kinds cultivate our connection to prana, our inner life force energy and that of the universe.
According to Ayurveda, prana is made up of five elements (Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth) that balance our inner composition with our outer experience. The elements are often discussed in relation to our unique composition described by the three doshas (known as vata dosha, kapha dosha, and pitta dosha) and the chakras, which offer a system for balancing our energy and releasing blockages.
By cultivating the balance between the elements within us through practicing mudras and working with our subtle body, we cultivate a strong flow of prana and focus our mental energy on removing obstacles from our path to fulfillment.
After all, freedom is a mindset! Garuda mudra is all about channeling the spacious, powerful qualities symbolized by the king of all birds to set yourself free.
Today we will focus on what garuda mudra is and how to practice it. Let’s get into it!
What Is Garuda Mudra?
Garuda mudra balances the air element (or vata energy) within our body. In Sanskrit, the word garuda means “eagle” (same root as garudasana / eagle pose). In Hindu mythology, garuda mudra represents the mighty bird Garuda, who transported Lord Vishnu (the lord of preservation) in ancient texts. Garuda was a large, powerful eagle with expansive wings. He was a mighty eagle, able to explore the skies and move freely about the universe.
By practicing this mudra, we invoke the energy of Garuda and cultivate a feeling of inner freedom and strength.
Planets: Saturn and Mercury
Elements: Air and Fire
Chakra: Heart chakra
Cultivate Inner Freedom & Other Benefits of Garuda Mudra
When imbalanced, Air energy is associated with feelings of being stuck and scattered. Similar to the effect of breathing stale, dry air in a windowless room with no ventilation, moving about the world with deficient Air in our energy body leaves us feeling stuffy and stifled. By practicing garuda mudra, we cultivate the flow of the Air element within our energy body. With the right mental focus, we can use garuda mudra whenever we seek inspiration, freedom, and fresh energy. The garuda mudra benefits our mental, physical, and spiritual health.
By practicing this mudra, you may experience the following benefits:
- Feelings of inner freedom
- Motivation to pursue passions
- Lower stress and anxiety levels
- Increased confidence
- Balanced energy
- Increased perseverance, commitment, and discipline
Some people believe that practicing garuda mudras helps eliminate toxins and improve the flow of the lymphatic system.
How To Do Garuda Mudra
To practice garuda mudra, you should be in a calm space where you feel safe and comfortable focusing your attention inwards. Wear comfortable clothes so your body does not feel restricted. Begin by taking deep breaths and placing the palms facing upwards on the knees or thighs.
To practice this mudra:
- Find a comfortable seat.
Begin by taking deep breaths and placing the palms facing upwards on the knees or thighs.
- Lift the left palm in front of the chest with the palm facing your heart.
Bring the left palm about 6 inches from the chest.
- Place the right palm behind the left palm with the thumbs interlaced.
Press the back of the left hand into the palm of the right hand. Keep the palms open in front of your heart. As you spread the fingers, feel the tension in the interlocked thumbs. At this stage, the hand gesture should form a butterfly shape.
- Hold and breathe deeply.
Focus your attention inwards, closing the eyes or fixing them softly in front of you. If it is comfortable, at this stage you can rest the hands against the chest in the spread-eagle shape.
- Repeat on the other side.
Reverse the hands and continue to breathe in and out deeply.
Pair These Yoga Practices With Garuda Mudra
To amplify the effects of the garuda mudra, you can combine the posture with meditation and breathwork exercises.
- Agni Mantra. Intensify the power of this mudra with the transformative fire of the agni mantra. While holding the gesture, repeat om agnaye namaha silently to yourself.
- Ujjayi Breath. Focus on the balance of air flow through your body by pairing garuda mudra with a simple ujjayi breath to promote energy flow. Gently hug the vocal cords around the throat as you breath to regulate the inhale and exhale as you hold the mudra.