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Eagle Pose (garudasana)

Standing balancing posture that stretches your back, shoulders and thighs.
 

Eagle Pose (or garudasana) helps to improve your balance and provides a good stretch to your upper back, shoulders and outer thighs. With regular practice of this pose, you can also strengthen your legs, knees and ankles.
 
To perform Eagle Pose, you wrap one leg around the other, which helps to open the back of your pelvis, and one arm around the other, which helps to create space between your shoulder blades.
 
As you perform Eagle Pose, you should focus on keeping your spine straight and your hips and shoulders facing forward.
 
When you first start practicing this pose, you may find it difficult to maintain your balance. Breathing evenly and gazing at a fixed point 4 or 5 feet in front of you can help you maintain your balance. Do not be tempted to grip the floor or mat with your toes. This will only make balancing more difficult.
 
You should be careful performing Eagle Pose if you have shoulder, arm, hip or knee problems.
 
Steps:
Begin in Mountain Pose.
Inhale as you raise your arms up to shoulder height at your sides, with your palms facing up. Your arms and shoulders should be relaxed.
Cross your left arm over your right arm so your elbows are on top of each other.
Bend your elbows and wrap your forearms around each other so your palms are facing each other.
(Make sure your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling.
(If your palms do not touch, rest one palm against your other wrist or forearm.
Bend your knees slightly and then shift your weight to your left leg.
Cross your right leg over your left leg just above your left knee.
Move your right foot behind your left lower leg and hook your foot over your left calf muscle or ankle.
(If you cannot reach your left calf muscle, position your right foot beside your left lower leg.
Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead.
(Visualize the straight line of your spine running the length of your body.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then return to Mountain Pose.
Repeat steps 2 to 9, crossing your opposite arm and leg over in steps 3 and 6.
 
I cannot wrap my arms around one another. How should I position my arms?
If have shoulder or arm problems, you can position your arms in Prayer Pose.
 
How can I increase the stretch in my shoulders and arms?
After you wrap your arms around one another, you can lift your hands and arms up toward the ceiling to increase the stretch. Lift your hands up only as far as is comfortable for you and keep your shoulders down. You should not feel any strain in your shoulders.
 
I have problems balancing in Eagle Pose. What can I do?
You can try performing the pose with your back lightly touching a wall. If you still find the balancing aspect of this pose too difficult, you can stand in Mountain Pose and perform only the arm movements in steps 3 and 4 above. This will allow you to remain balanced and still perform a great shoulder stretch.
 
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