Garudasana (pronounced gah-rue-DAHS-anna) is also commonly known as Eagle Pose. The word “garuda” comes from the mythological Hindu term “king of the birds” and in Sanskrit the word means, “eagle.” Garudasana is a standing balance pose that cultivates focus, strength and calmness. The breath work required while in Eagle Pose allows a student to quiet the mind and let go of distractions. Garudasana can be a very beneficial pose for yogis that suffer from asthma, sciatica pain and low backaches. In addition, Eagle Pose strengthens the thighs, ankles and calves and stretches the upper back, shoulders, hips, thighs, ankles and calves. Garudasana also improves coordination, concentration and one’s sense of balance. As this pose opens the back lungs, it can increase one’s breathing capacity. Additionally, the balance required in Eagle Pose can help protect against knee injuries.
While there are many advantages to performing Garudasana, this pose should be avoided if one has chronic headaches, low blood pressure, inner ear problems or medical conditions that affect balance. Women late-term in their pregnancy should also avoid this pose or instead, practice it against a wall for balancing assistance. Anyone with chronic or recent knee injuries should not perform the full version of Eagle Pose and instead, only cross one leg over the other.
How to perform Garudasana:
- Begin in Tadasana. Bend the knees slightly, lift the left foot and while balancing on the right foot, cross the left thigh over the right. Point the left toes toward the floor, press the foot back and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf. Balance on the right foot.
- Stretch the arms straight-out and forward, keeping them parallel to the floor. Spread the scapulas wide across the back of the torso. Cross the arms in front of the torso so that the right arm is above the left and then bend the elbows. Place the right elbow into the crook of the left elbow and raise the forearms perpendicular to the floor. The backs of the hands should be facing each other.
- Press the right hand to the right and the left hand to the left, so that the palms are now facing each other. The thumb of the right hand should pass in front of the little finger of the left. Now press the palms together (as much as is possible), lift the elbows up and stretch the fingers toward the ceiling.
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then unwind the legs and arms and find Tadasana again.
- Repeat for the same length of time with the arms and legs reversed.