When people talk about yogis as being able to twist themselves up like pretzels, they may be talking about Eagle Pose, or Garudasa (GAR-oo-dah-sana).
The eagle is known as the King Bird; one that holds intense concentration as it watches over others. Eagle Pose also requires intense concentration to hold steady on one foot with legs and arms intertwined. The results are both improved strength as well as focus two traits shared by these great birds and yogis.
How to do Eagle Pose
Start standing with your feet hip width apart. Bend your knees slightly, and shift your weight to your left foot. Slowly pick up your right foot and cross your right thigh over your left with your right toes towards the ground. Bend the top leg a little more to reach your toes behind your supporting leg and hook your toes around your calf.
Hold that leg position and you move up to your arms. Raise your arms to the side, parallel to the floor. Bring them in front of you and, as you bend your arms, lock your left elbow into the nook of your right elbow. Continue drawing your right hand toward your body and wrapping your forearms until your palms connect.
Keep your spine straight over your hips as you gaze two to three feet in front of you. Continue to reach your fingertips towards the sky. Youll feel a powerful opening in your upper back.
Breathe into the back body and hips as you hold this position.
Tips for Beginners
Eagle pose has a lot going on. You have a few options to modify this pose until you can reach the full posture.
1. If the balance is too much or you cant hook your toes behind you, keep your toes on the ground or along the outside of your shin.
2. If you feel any pain in your shoulders, bring your palms and forearms together in front of you or stack your elbows and connect the top of your hands instead of your palms.
Continue working towards the pose. If you fall out of it, try it again! Its not failure. Its growth.
If you suffer from any knee problems, dont try to hook the toe behind you. Instead, bend your knees slightly, or, if you can place one leg on top of the other without pain, do so while keeping your toe on the ground.
If you suffer from shoulder problems, follow the modifications listed above.
Benefits of Eagle Pose
Eagle Pose is not easy, but it brings with it tremendous benefits, both in the full pose as well as the modified versions strengthening, stretching and calming.
Eagle Pose strengthens the thighs, calves and ankles.
It stretches and opens the hips, thighs, shoulders and upper back.
It improves concentration and helps calm the mind in turbulent times.
Eagle Pose can be frustrating. Remind yourself that its all part of the practice and the more open your mind, the more able youll be to perform it, hold it and benefit from it.