Welcome to one of the juiciest shoulder and hip openers – Garudasana or Eagle pose.
I’ve been drawn to this asana a lot since arriving in Morocco. It’s wonderful for surfers to get deep into the shoulders and wonderful for those of us who’ve been working a little too hard at the office, driving, texting, typing etc etc. If you take the variation including the legs as well it’s a true test for our balance and gets deep down into the fascia of the hips – a place where we tend to store a lot of tension and trauma.
The Sanskirt name can be broken down to:
Garuda = Eagle
Asana = Seat or commonly translated as “posture”
In Hindu mythology Garuda is known as the king of birds. He transports the God Vishnu and is eager to help humanity fight against demons. According to some definitions, the name Garuda can be defined as “devourer” because Garuda was originally identified with the “all-consuming fire of the sun’s rays”. This balance definitely gets that internal fire going in the belly, solar plexus “manipura” chakra. It takes a lot of core strength and balance to hold the pose but like me you may like to focus sometimes on just the arms or just the legs.
Variations also include cupping your shoulders, lifting the elbows away from the body to still get that same shoulder stretch. Or clapping the backs of the palms to touch if there isn’t space to bind and find the palms. With the legs you can practice crossing the knees and don’t worry about tucking the toes behind the back calf muscle. All of this can come with time.
You may also like the variation here lying on your back and using the exhale to lift the elbows to the knees, inhale to come down, for a deep core workout. 10 reps, rest and then another 10 reps is a good number for me!
This pose really calls to me and fits my practice at this time as I tend to wind myself up in knots inside my head worrying about things.
Through yoga we learn that although life is constantly changing, we can find balance, peace, stillness, and get in touch with our true essence in the midst of the chaos.
The aim of Garudasana is wind ourself up in a physical knot so that we can then deeply unwind and release. When it comes to that exhale at the end of the pose spread your wings and soar!
The benefits of this posture include:
- Improves balance
- Strengthens your inner thighs and ankles
- Stretches your calves
- Opens up space in the upper back
Take your time, be patient have fun experimenting and remember to do both sides!