(Gah-Rue-Dahs-Anna) Vishnu’s vehicle, Garuda, is the mythic “king of the birds.” The word is usually defined as “eagle,” but one dictionary says the name literally means “devourer,” since Garuda was originally associated with the “all-consuming fire of the sun’s rays.”
Garudasana is a standing position in which the practitioner turns one arm and one leg in different directions. The term garuda (“eagle”) and asana (“pose”) are Sanskrit words.
What Does Garudasana Mean?
Start in mountain pose, then hook the left foot behind the right calf and cross the left thigh over the right thigh, knees bent. When the palms of both hands come together, the right elbow is placed into the crook of the left elbow. Repeat on the other side.
In English, Garudasana is also defined as an eagle pose.
In Hindu mythology, Garuda is the king of birds and Lord Vishnu’s vehicle. The term refers to the pose’s regal, bird-like stature.
Eagles are considered strong and powerful since they can fly for long periods of time without stopping, owing to their ability to “ride the wind.” Similarly, rather than fighting the pose’s force, garudasana allows the practitioner to ride it and stay in the present moment. By balancing dual forces such as feminine and masculine, support and power, and motion and stability, the physical balance needed for the pose seeks to focus on the spirit.
How To Get Into Garudasana
Eagle Pose seems to be the stereotypical wild, twisted-up-like-a-pretzel yoga pose, but after you break it down, it’s not so complicated. Eagle Pose is a balancing test, but since the arms are pulled towards the body and the centre of gravity is low due to the bent legs, it’s less dangerous than most one-legged standing poses. It also targets the hard-to-reach glutes and inner thighs. The posture often serves as a perfect shoulder flex.
With both legs bent and arms at your sides, start in Awkward Chair Pose (Utkatasana). Starting from a standing position with soft knees is another choice.
Step by Step Instruction
- Raise your head to shoulder level with palms facing up on an inhale.
- Exhale and cross your left arm over your right so that the elbows are put on top.
- Bend your elbows so that the backs of your forearms are parallel and your hands’ backs face one another. Wrap your forearms around each other until the palms of your hands are in touch. Lengthen your fingers and keep your wrists in line with your forearms. (Keep your hands parallel with the backs facing each other if you can’t join your palms without distorting your wrists.) In the opposite direction, press your forearms together. Take note of the stretch in your “wings” (shoulder blades).
- Shift your weight to your left foot by folding your knees.
- Cross your right leg above the knee over your left.
- Wrap your right foot behind your left lower leg and try to loop it over the calf or ankle on the left side. Left wraps around right on the upper half of your neck. Right wraps around left at the bottom. (Do not wrap the legs if you can only bear total load from one side.)
- Instead, hold your feet parallel, bend your legs, and return to a chair position with your hips in a high squat.) Achieve equilibrium. Draw the points of your hips together. Pull the navel up and down. Take a deep breath. Imagine yourself as an eagle perched in the sky, apparently motionless on the outside but intensely active and present on the inside.
- Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Raise your brows and lift the base of your skull. Raise your chest when leaning away from your hip crease. Continue to spread your shoulder blades by pressing your forearms in opposite directions.
- Like an eagle soaring and sighting, fix your eyes on the inner edges of your hands.
Take note of the softness or hardness of your breath, body, and eyes. When you focus intently on your hands, note if your eyes harden and step forward. Is it possible to be both soft and concentrated at the same time? Can you keep your muscles active while sustaining a comfortable breathing pattern? Experiment with inhaling into the back of your lower lungs and expanding your ribs like wings. Breathe as if you were a gliding eagle.
Vishnu’s vehicle, Garuda, is the creator’s preserver, sustainer, and defender. Vishnu derives his identity from the root vish, which indicates “to enter into” or “to pervade.” Visnu maintains, restores, and defends the world by joining it and without leaving it—just as in meditation, you pick the subject of concentration and then choose the exact subject over and over again in each moment to keep the meditation going. Consider the words “preservation” and “sustainability.” What characteristics would you like to be the preserver’s vehicle? As a perseveration vehicle, how can you inhale? How do your muscles and bones respond to that energy?
Re-enact the pose. Allow your consciousness to pervade each area of the body, your breath, and your sense organs while you maintain it. Be fairly available in all situations. Renew your dedication to being involved in every area where your focus is waning.
Advantages of Garudasana – Eagle Pose
Although enhancing your balance and core strength, the standing Eagle Pose strengthens your calves, ankles, thighs, and hips. It helps in the development of better focus. It can help with a lower backache or sciatica for certain people.
Eagle Pose is a great antidote to the shoulder strain that comes with sitting at a keyboard for extended periods of time. To unknick your shoulders, do eagle arms a few times a day while sitting as part of a desk yoga routine or immediately after your yoga warm up.
- Ankles and calves are strengthened and extended.
- Thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back are all stretched.
- Concentration is enhanced.
Variations and Modifications
As you get more relaxed with the pose, you can make the following adjustments:
- Rest your backside on a wall if you’re having trouble standing on one knee.
- Place a block under the lifted foot if you can’t loop the lifted foot around the calf.
- By resting your toes on the floor, you can also use the foot as a kickstand.
- This will also assist you in keeping your balance.
- This pose can be conducted while sitting in a chair.
As you advance, try any of the following variations:
Send your gaze down as you lower your torso and lean deeper into your legs in Garudasana. As you lower, your upper back will round a little as you bring your elbows to your knees. Permit your thumbs to come into contact with your third eye. In this juggling act, hug your limbs to your midline for comfort. Take a deep breath.
To do eagle crunches, come forward and then back upright several times.
Precautions and Safety
If you have a knee, elbow, hand, or shoulder injury, you should avoid Eagle Pose. If you’re having trouble with balance, exercise against the ground to avoid falling.
Garudasana has a lot of advantages, when practised meticulously and regularly. Although it is quite a complex form of yoga asana with a lot of twits, Eagle pose not only improves your balance but also strengthens your core improving overall health.