Garudasana, loosely translated in English as the eagle pose, is a favourite among yogis for its many benefits. Practising this pose is believed to help one tide along the ups and downs of life without resistance—akin to an eagle that glides steadily in all kinds of winds.
As per Hindu mythology, the Garud is the favourite ride of the deity Lord Vishnu. It is a large bird that is capable of gliding without having to halt and is considered the ‘king of birds’. It depicts qualities such as power, fearlessness, focus, determination, resilience and strength. The Garud also has significance in Buddhism and is one of the four dignities—the mythical animals that represent various aspects of the Bodhisattva attitude. The attitude it stands for is wisdom.
Getting into the pose
Begin in Tadasana, with your feet firmly grounded and your body weight equally spread across the entire length of your feet. Keep your hands by your sides and stretched down.
Fix your gaze [drishti] on a stationary point in front of you for a few moments. The point should be at the level of your eyes.
Now, slowly shifting the weight of your body on the left foot, lift the right foot off the ground and place the right thigh over the left thigh. Bending the left knee, wrap the right foot across the left calf. Keep the right foot straight with your toes pointing down. Maintaining drishti will help you balance your body and move your mind away from the pose. Remember, you don’t need to look at your body to manoeuvre it into a pose. Keep looking ahead.
Stretch your hands out in front of you and place the left arm over the right arm. Bend your elbows keeping the hands facing skyward and intertwine your forearms. Bring the palms to face each other and touch each other. Once the palms are pressing one another, lift the hands sky ward.
Feel the space between the shoulder blades opening up. Stay in this pose for 5 – 6 breaths and slowly release the hands and feet to come back to Tadasana. Repeat, this time shifting the weight on your right foot.
You can alternatively do the hands or the leg postures of Garudasana in isolation.
You can also do just the hand position when in Vajrasana or Virasana or just the leg position in Tadasana, keeping your hands on your hips.
You can also do Garudasana when lying flat on your back.
Initially, attempting the asana lying down makes it easier for you to try doing it standing.
If you’re unable to take the foot back, use a yoga block to rest the crossed foot on. Balance yourself on one foot and slowly wean yourself from the support of the block.
It may frustrating in the beginning , if your body is stiff and you may end up feeling clumsy in the asana but keep at it. Once you attain the final position of Garudasana, you’ll soar like an eagle and the feeling is exhilarating.
- Strengthens calves, thighs, ankles and feet
- Brings a sense of calm and balance
- Improves concentration and focus
- Makes arms, shoulders and back flexible.
Avoid doing this asana if you have injury/sprain in the ankles, feet or shoulder.
Garudasana can also be done in Sarvangasana [shoulder stand] or in Shirsasana [head stand].
The one quality that is critical for a fulfilling life is stability and practising Garudasana develops it within you.