Yoga Poses

Eagle Pose /Garudasana

Steps

In Tadasana or Mountain pose, spread the toes and heels, rooting the feet into the ground.  The knees should be soft. Inhale and extend the arms straight in front of you and parallel to the ground.  Exhale and bend both knees.  Shift your weight and grounding into the left leg making the right leg light.  Inhale as you lift the right knee and wrap it around the standing leg.  Exhale and bend the knees.  The right thigh should be in front of the left and the top of the right foot should rest on the left calf.  Now, bring the left arm over the right and bend the elbows.  Wrap the left forearm around the right and bring the palms together in front of the nose. Balance in this position for five flowing breaths (inhaling and exhaling through the nose).  To come back to Tadasana, bend the left knee and bring the right toe down to the floor. Inhale and straighten the legs, exhale and release the arms down.  Repeat the other side.

Also, check out 5 tips for planning your yoga class around Eagle pose

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

Eagle is a challenging and fun pose for all levels. To keep students focused, yet still relaxed, bring their attention to the breath – counting each inhalation and exhalation for the duration of the balance. You might also use this time to explain the benefits of the pose – or its form - the intertwining of the arms in front of the nose are meant to resemble Garuda’s beak.

Technical Comments

To support samasthiti- steadiness, alignment and balance of the pose, encourage students to keep the eye gaze steady, focusing on a fixed spot at eye level. The elbows, knees and hands should line up in the centre of the body - in line with the navel and nose. To maintain the pose and support the back extension, ask students to lift up from the pelvic floor on the inhale and drawing the tail bone down on the exhale. Push the elbows away from the chest to open the shoulders and lift the chest. Pull the lower belly in to make space for the top leg to lift and wrap over the standing leg. The shoulders will round slightly so encourage the students to relax the shoulders blades drawing them down into the back to prevent rounding of the back or hunching of the neck.

Benefit Comments

  • Improves concentration
  • Strengthens ankle and leg muscles
  • Increases flexibility of shoulders, arms, legs and hips
  • Improves strength and flexibility of upper back

Watch Out For:

  • Twisting knees, ankles and feet
  • Over-arching or rounding of the back
  • Flaying foot (bring big toe to ground if needed)

Contraindications

  • Ankle and Knee injuries (arms only)
  • Wrist and hand injuries (legs only- arms in prayer)

Modifications

Use a wall to support back or bring the toe of the wrapped leg to the floor to support the ankles and knees. If the shoulders are tight – fold the arms bring palms together in prayer – anjali mudra.

Variations

  • Begin in Chair pose – utkatasana- to strengthen the thighs and bottom
  • Bring the thighs parallel to the floor and the elbows over and in front of the knees (keep the spine extended and back straight as in a half forward bend)
  • Try side eagle – Release the arms, bring hands to floor on top leg side. Ben the elbows back and tuck the crook of left elbow into the standing leg knee crease. The other elbow is placed just under the ribs. Make the legs light, engage the abdominals and push the chest forward for a challenging arm balance)

Yoga Counter Poses

  • Tall mountain - Tadasana
  • Raised arms pose - Hasta Utthanasana
  • Forward bend – Utthasana
  • Down dog – Adha Mukha Svanasana

Written By: Brenda Hamlet RYT 200

Brenda teaches yoga in Health & Fitness Centres and in small corporate settings across the city of Oxford, England. More information about Brenda can be found at www.pret-a-yoga.com

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