The term ‘Garuda’ means the mythic “king of the birds.” Another meaning is the vehicle of Vishnu. This Sanskrit word is usually translated into English as “eagle”, though as stated by one dictionary, the name literally means “devourer”. The reason for this is because Garuda was originally identified with the “all-consuming fire of the sun’s rays”.
To do Garudasana (or Eagle Pose) you need strength, flexibility, endurance, and unwavering concentration. This pose has the following benefits:
- Strengthening the legs, buttocks, ankles and calves.
- Stretching the shoulders.
- Improving flexibility in the arms and legs.
- Improving concentration.
- Helping with lower backache, asthma and sciatica.
- Begin in Tadasana.
- Find support on your standing leg.
- Inhale, lift your left leg and cross it over your right thigh. Hook the top of your foot behind your lower right calk. Balance on the right foot.
- Raise your knee as much as it is possible for you to do and twist your shin behind the calf of your standing leg.
- Straighten your arms directly forward, parallel to the floor and cross your arms in front of your chest so that the right arm is above the left. Then bend your elbows. Tuck the right elbow into the crook of the left. After this, raise your forearms at right angles to the ground. The backs of the hands should be facing one other.
- Move your hands apart slightly and then move the thumb of the right past the front of the little finger on the left hand.
- The next step is to press the palms together (as much as is possible for you), lift your elbows and stretch the fingers toward the ceiling.
- Hold between 30 seconds and one minute.
- Exhale and unwind the legs and arm. Stand in Tadasana again.
- Repeat on the other side.
For beginners, if you can’t wrap your bent leg around the supporting one, then cross your legs and press the big toe of the raised-leg foot against the floor to help maintain your balance if you can’t bring the palms of your hands together, place them underneath each other or stretch your arms straight forward, parallel to the floor and hold onto the ends of a strap.
Advanced can try this modification of Garudasana:
- From full eagle, exhale and lean your torso into a forward bend pressing the forearms against the log-leg thigh. Hold for a number 9f breaths and then come up with an inhalation. Repeat on the second side.
- Practise crossing arms and legs at the same time.
Deferrals and cautions relating to Garudasana
- Varicose veins and circulatory disorders. If you have any of these conditions, please follow the beginners guide.
- Avoid Garudasana after a long-distance flight.
- People living with Osteoporosis should avoid Garudasana as it puts too much pressure on the joints.
- Knee or ankle injuries. If you suffer from either of these, avoid this pose or follow the beginners guide.
Preparatory poses are the following:
- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Prasarita Padottanasana
- Supt Virasana
- Supta Baddha Konasana
- Upavistha Konasana
Follow-up poses to Garudasana
Eagle Pose is normally sequenced near the end of the standing pose sequence. The arm position in the pose is quite useful in teaching how to widen the back torso in inverted poses such as Adho Mukha Vrksasana and Sirsasana.
Other follow-up poses mich include the following:
The counter pose is the Wide Leg Forward Bend.
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