Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)


What is Garudasana (Eagle Pose)?

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Garudasana, or Eagle Pose, is a standing yoga pose with twisted arms and legs. This is a standing pose that is balanced on one leg at a time. 

Eagles are considered strong birds with great focus. Similarly, this posture also requires immense core strength and mental consciousness to balance your whole body on one leg. 

The more you hold this pose, the more you will feel your ankles, thighs, glutes, knees, core, arms, shoulders, and back start to burn. 

The name Garudasana is a combination of Sanskrit words. 'Garuda' means Eagle, and 'Asana' means posture or seat.  

According to Hindu mythology, Garuda is the king of all birds, the enemy of snakes, and a friend of humans. 

He is the Vaahan (vehicle) of the supreme Hindu god, Lord Vishnu. This king of all birds can carry Lord Vishnu through the sky, never needing to land. 

In Hindu culture, you will find two famous scriptures devoted to Garuda. The first is Garuda Purana and the second is Garudopanishad

Garudopanishad is a book about mantras and charms that can heal you from poison. On the other hand, Garuda Purana is one of 18 Mahapurans, including a vast collection of topics, like cosmology, karma, soteriology, and yoga theory. 

Whereas in the Buddhist culture, eagles are known as a mythical species, and you will find Garuda as a common subject in Buddhist folk art. 

In Tibetan Buddhist culture, Eagle is one of the Four Dignities in animals, representing Bodhisattva (a monk attaining Nirvana). 

Sanskrit Name: गरुडासन                        Pronunciation: gah-roo-DAH-sah-nuh

Pose Type: Standing Balance Pose       Also known as: Eagle Pose

Strengthens: Knees, Ankle, and Calves  

Stretches: Glutes, Shoulder, Thighs, and Upper Back

Health Benefits of Garudasana

  • Improves posture. 

  • Enhances flexibility in the body. 

  • Strengthen the knee and elbows. 

  • Stimulates abdominal organ function. 

  • Increase awareness and mental focus.

  • Strengthens the core and lengthens the legs.

  • Improves blood circulation in the legs, glutes, and arms. 

  • Burns excess fat around the legs, glutes, abdomen, and arms.

  • Activates the vertebrate and improves nervous system function. 

When to Avoid Performing Garudasana

  • Avoid if you have any injuries. 

  • Avoid if you have a severe surgery.

  • Avoid if you have chronic lower back pain. 

  • Avoid if you have inflammatory knee or elbow arthritis. 

  • Avoid if you are experiencing pelvic or abdominal discomfort. 

  • Avoid during pregnancy or if you have sore feet and back pain.

How to do Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Eagle Pose can be an overwhelming yoga asana to perform. That’s why we have segmented the whole practice into multiple phases, with a warm-up, steps to get in the main pose, alignment cues, and relaxation. 

For beginners and intermediate yogis, we have also included some easy modifications and fun variations to try during your Garudasana practice. Let’s get started! 

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Garudasana 

The main muscles you need to activate for Eagle Pose are your arms, glutes, calves, knees, and spine. The following are some preparatory poses to warm up all the necessary body parts: 

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) - Also known as Samasthiti, this is a fundamental standing yoga asana practiced for mild activation in the feet, spine, legs, and core. 

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand straight in the center of your mat with your feet slightly hip-distant apart and parallel to each other. Keep both arms relaxed beside your torso, with both the palms facing toward the front. Hold this stance for 2 to 5 minutes with deep conscious breathing. 

2. Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) - This is a seated cross-legged yoga asana in which the leg formation resembles a cow's face. It’s an excellent hip opener, and it helps to lengthen your spine. Start by sitting upright and cross both your legs so that your knees are stacked on top of one another. 

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

To reach your arms behind, flex one arm up from the shoulder and the other from below on the side of your oblique. Elongate your spine to open your chest, and clasp your fingers behind your back. Hold this pose for 2 to 3 minutes, then alternate the placement of your legs and arms. 

3. Utkatasana (Chair Pose) - This is the foundation yoga posture for getting into Eagle Pose. Start by standing in Mountain Pose, inhale deep, and keep both legs close.

Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

Now, exhale as you bend your knees and move your glutes at the back. Lift your arms overhead and hold this pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Keep repeating for 5 to 10 rounds, which will increase the blood flow in your lower body. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Garudasana 

The following are steps to perform Garudasana or Eagle pose: 

Step 1- Stand straight in Tadasana and take a few deep breaths, making sure to relax your body. 

Step 2- Inhale, place both hands on your waist and engage your core muscles. Slightly bend your knees and lift your right foot off the mat. 

Step 3- Now, wrap your right leg on your left leg and curl your right foot over your left calf muscle to lock your legs completely. 

Step 4- Exhale and lower your glutes towards the ground, like you are doing a narrow squat. 

Step 5- When you feel comfortable, raise both your arms to chest level and bend them from your elbows.  

Step 6- Keep breathing gently as you wrap your left elbow over your right forearm and interlock your arms by clasping both palms together. 

Step 7- Focus on your breath and your gaze to hold this formation here for the next 5 to 10 deep breaths. 

Step 8- Exhale as you release your locked legs and arms. Stand straight for your blood to circulate back and then repeat the same on the other side.

Breath Awareness: 

  • Inhale - When you engage your core and lift any one foot off the mat. 

  • Exhale - As you lower down after interlocking, and when you finally release the pose. 

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold Eagle Pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths on each side.

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold Eagle Pose for 60 to 90 seconds on each side. 

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

The following are some alignment cues that are essential for the safe execution of Eagle Pose: 

  • Engage the core: When the core muscles are loose, you’ll have a higher chance of becoming imbalanced and getting injured. Make sure your core muscles are super tight while balancing your entire body on one leg.

Once you have built a stable foundation with your core strength, engage your ankles, lower back, shoulders, and arms. This will help you hold the pose longer. 

  • Focus your gaze: Eagles not only have the sharpest eyesight in the whole animal kingdom but they are also estimated to have 4 to 8 times better sight than humans. 

This is because eagles are very well-focused, and you have to mimic the same kind of intense concentration to maintain your posture balance. 

All balancing yoga poses are best performed with a focused Drishti (Gaze). 

In Eagle Pose, your gaze must be focused on the tip of your thumbs, but if this is not possible for some reason, then try to focus your eyes on one point and only at that point until the practice is over. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Garudasana 

Practice the below counter yoga poses after Eagle Pose to keep the energy flowing and to release any remaining muscle tension. 

1. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose) - After a long session of Eagle Pose, your spine will need some attention. Start by gently bending your upper body from the torso and reaching for your toes. 

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)

This is a full-body stretch, but you will feel a counter stretch in your lower back and hamstrings, providing a soothing sense of release. Hold this pose here for 1 to 2 minutes. This forward bend helps the blood flow back into your head, arms, and shoulders, energizing them again. 

2. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend) - From the forward bend pose, widen your legs to more than hip-width apart and perform the same bending action. 

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)

Place your hands on the floor and breathe deeply as you hold this pose for a few minutes. This will help you relax your mid-back, neck, and legs even deeper. 

3. Malasana (Garland Pose) -  Get into this deep yogi squat to release any leftover tension in your ankles, tailbone, thighs, knees, and pelvic floor. From the wide-legged pose, continue to exhale and pull your glutes close to the ground in a deep squat position. 

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Place your arms close to your chest in prayer formation and make sure your thighs are pointing out with the resistance of your arms. Hold this pose and breathe deeply until your whole body feels relaxed. 

Garudasana Modifications and Props

If you are unable to balance your body in Eagle Pose, try adding the following modifications or props to assist you in your practice: 

  • Work on your eagle arms: If the idea of balancing with your hands clasped and legs together feels overwhelming, then try this modified version of full Garudasana. In this modification, you will only work on your arms formation. 

Work on your eagle arms

Start by sitting in Vajrasana and keep your spine straight. Now wrap your left arm over your right arm and interlock your palms together. This pose will strengthen your mind-muscle connection and help you get stable in preparation for the final practice. 

  • Add a chair for support: As you build your Eagle Pose foundation, it’s best to start in a supported eagle stance for slight core and leg activation. Sit on a chair for support and cross your legs and arms in the Eagle Pose formation. 

Add a chair for support

Hold this pose on each side for a few minutes. This will help you build a strong foundation before immediately jumping into the main balancing act. Also, keep testing your balance by getting your pelvis off the chair. Once you feel strong enough, you can completely move away from the chair. 

  • Foot-on yoga block: If you’re now slightly able to stand in Eagle Pose but still have a fear of getting imbalanced, then add a yoga block below your toe (the one which is lifted and wrapped on the side).

Foot-on yoga block

Keep trying to move away from the yoga block with toe taps. Over time, you’ll be able to balance your whole body in Eagle Pose. 

Garudasana Variations to Consider

Take a look at these Eagle Pose variations for both beginner and advanced yogis: 

1. Reclining Eagle Crunch: This is a super core strengthening dynamic move for anyone who wants to work their abs. Start by lying down on your back on the yoga mat, and cross your legs and arms in the eagle formation. Engage your core muscle and try to perform crunches with your abs in this eagle formation. 

Reclining Eagle Crunch

Take a deep breath and expand your abs. Now, exhale as you come up, touch your elbows with your knees as you crunch, and hold your body here for two seconds. Repeat, and perform ten reps of these for two rounds on each side. 

Reclining Eagle Crunch

2. Eagle Pose Low Squat: Try squatting low in Eagle Pose to feel a burn in your glutes. Start with the basic Garudasana practice, focus your gaze, and slowly lower your pelvis to the ground. 

Eagle Pose Low Squat

Stabilize your body with an engaged core and rounded back as you hold this variation for a few seconds on each side. 

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Level-Up Poses After Garudasana for Advanced Yogis

Once you’ve mastered the art of sustaining in Eagle Pose, you're ready to level up your practice even further. Below are a few advanced yoga asanas for seasoned yoga practitioners with a strong core and high concentration skills. 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Eka Pada Utkatasana (Figure-4 Chair Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Eka Pada Utkatasana (Figure-4 Chair Pose)

Eka Pada Utkatasana (Figure-4 Chair Pose)

Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)

Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Similar Standing Balance Poses like Garudasana

If you want to improve your core strength with yoga, then add the following yoga poses to your daily practice: 

  1. Vriksasana (Tree Pose)

  2. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

  3. Dekasana (Airplane Pose)

  4. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose 3)

  5. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

  6. Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose)

Frequently Asked Questions about Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

What are the benefits of Garudasana?

Can beginners perform the Garudasana pose?

What is the meaning of Garudasana?

How does Garudasana benefit the legs?

Who should not perform Garudasana?

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