Garudasana, also known as Eagle Pose, is a standing yoga posture that involves balancing on one leg while wrapping the other leg around it. This asana is named after Garuda, the mythological bird of Hindu and Buddhist tradition known for its strength and power.
To perform the pose, one starts in Tadasana or Mountain Pose, then raises one leg and crosses it over the other, hooking the foot behind the standing leg’s calf. The arms are then crossed in front of the torso, with the elbows bent and the hands resting on opposite shoulders. The gaze is directed forward, and the pose is held for several breaths before switching sides.
Garudasana strengthens the legs and ankles, improves balance, and stretches the shoulders and upper back. It also stimulates the flow of energy through the body, promoting mental clarity and focus.
गरुडासने स्थितो योगी पदं तत् परमं पदम्।
अधो मुख्यं प्रयत्नोऽस्तु योगी निश्चल मानसः॥ in english
“Garudaasane sthito yogi padam tat paramam padam.
Adho mukhyam prayatno’stu yogi nishcala maanasaha.”
This sloka from the Yoga Shiksha Upanishad describes the posture of a yogi who is standing in Garudasana. The verse roughly translates to: “The yogi who stands in the Garudasana attains the highest state. With a steady mind, the yogi’s primary effort should be directed downwards.”
The sloka emphasizes the importance of balance and stability in the physical posture, as well as a focused and steady mind. The downward-directed effort also suggests that the yogi is rooting their energy to the earth and cultivating a sense of grounding and stability, which is essential for achieving higher states of consciousness in yoga.
Meaning of Garudasana and Where it Came From
Garudasana is a yoga posture named after Garuda, a bird-like creature from Hindu mythology. Garuda is often depicted as a symbol of strength, courage, and freedom.
In the Garudasana pose, one leg is wrapped around the other, with the foot hooked behind the calf, while the arms are crossed in front of the chest. This creates a twisted and balanced posture that strengthens the legs and hips, improves balance, and stretches the shoulders and upper back.
The name “Garudasana” comes from the Sanskrit words “Garuda” (गरुड), which means eagle or bird, and “asana” (आसन), which means posture or seat. The pose is also sometimes referred to as “Eagle Pose” in English.
Garudasana is said to have originated in the Hatha Yoga tradition of ancient India. The pose is described in several texts, including the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita, as a powerful posture for cultivating strength, balance, and focus. Today, Garudasana is a popular yoga pose practiced in many different styles of yoga around the world.
When To Practice Garudasana
Garudasana or Eagle Pose can be practiced at any time of the day, but it is best to practice it on an empty stomach. It is also important to warm up the body before attempting the pose to avoid any injuries.
Garudasana is a great pose for improving balance, stability, and concentration, so it can be a beneficial addition to any yoga practice. It is especially useful for those who spend a lot of time sitting or standing, as it stretches and strengthens the legs, hips, and lower back.
Some practitioners also recommend practicing Garudasana in the morning as it can help energize and invigorate the body and mind for the day ahead. Others prefer to practice it in the evening as a way to release tension and stress accumulated throughout the day.
Step by Step guide How to practice Garudasana (Eagle Pose):
- Begin by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet hip-distance apart and arms by your sides.
- Shift your weight onto your left foot and bend your right knee, bringing it up towards your chest.
- Cross your right thigh over your left thigh, wrapping your right foot around your left calf.
- Point your right toes towards the floor and balance on your left foot. You can also use a wall or chair for support if needed.
- Bring your arms in front of your chest, bending your elbows and crossing your right arm over your left arm. Press your palms together and lift your elbows up to shoulder height.
- Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, focusing on your balance and breath. You can also try gazing at a fixed point in front of you to help with balance.
- Release the pose by slowly uncrossing your legs and arms, and returning to Tadasana.
- Repeat the pose on the opposite side by standing on your right foot and crossing your left thigh over your right thigh.
- Losing balance: Garudasana requires a good sense of balance. A common mistake is to place too much weight on the standing foot or not engaging the core muscles. To avoid this, focus on grounding through the standing foot and engaging the muscles of the lower abdomen to maintain balance.
- Hunching the shoulders: In Garudasana, it is important to keep the shoulders relaxed and away from the ears. A common mistake is to hunch the shoulders forward or lift them up towards the ears. To avoid this, keep the shoulders down and back, and draw the shoulder blades towards each other.
- Forcing the twist: In Garudasana, it is important to create a twist in the spine, but it should not be forced. A common mistake is to twist too far or to push the arms and legs too hard. To avoid this, start with a gentle twist and only go as far as your body allows. Remember to breathe deeply and relax the muscles around the twist.
- Clenching the jaw: Some people tend to clench their jaw or tense their facial muscles when practicing Garudasana. This can create unnecessary tension in the body and lead to discomfort. To avoid this, try to relax the jaw and facial muscles, and breathe deeply and calmly through the pose.
- Not using props: Garudasana can be challenging for some people, especially those with limited flexibility or balance. Using props like a wall or a chair for support can be helpful in maintaining balance and finding the right alignment. If you are struggling with the pose, don’t hesitate to use props to make it more accessible and comfortable.
Contraindications (Who Shouldn’t Do)
Garudasana is generally a safe pose for most people to practice, but there are some contraindications to keep in mind. Here are some situations when it may be best to avoid or modify the pose:
- Knee or ankle injuries: Garudasana involves wrapping one leg around the other, which can put pressure on the knees and ankles. If you have a knee or ankle injury, it may be best to skip this pose or modify it by keeping your foot on the floor instead of wrapping it around the other leg.
- Low blood pressure: Garudasana can lower blood pressure, so it may not be appropriate for people with low blood pressure or those prone to dizziness or fainting. If you have low blood pressure, it is best to avoid this pose or modify it by using a wall or chair for support.
- Migraines or headaches: Garudasana involves twisting the neck, which can aggravate migraines or headaches. If you suffer from migraines or headaches, it may be best to avoid this pose or modify it by keeping the head in a neutral position.
- Pregnancy: Garudasana can be challenging for pregnant women, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. It is best to avoid this pose or modify it by using a wall or chair for support and not twisting the abdomen.
- Spinal injuries: Garudasana involves twisting the spine, so it may not be appropriate for people with spinal injuries or conditions. If you have a spinal injury or condition, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider before attempting this pose.
22 Health Benefits of Garudasana
Garudasana offers numerous health benefits for the mind and body. Here are some of the main health benefits of practicing Garudasana:
- Increases balance and stability: Garudasana requires balance and stability, which can help improve overall balance and stability in the body.
- Strengthens the legs: Garudasana strengthens the muscles of the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
- Improves flexibility: Garudasana stretches the shoulders, upper back, hips, and thighs, which can improve overall flexibility in the body.
- Improves focus and concentration: Garudasana requires focus and concentration, which can improve overall mental clarity and focus.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Garudasana can help reduce stress and anxiety by calming the mind and body.
- Stimulates the lymphatic system: Garudasana can help stimulate the lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body.
- Increases circulation: Garudasana can help increase circulation in the legs, which can help prevent varicose veins and other circulatory problems.
- Relieves back pain: Garudasana can help relieve back pain by stretching the muscles of the upper back and improving spinal alignment.
- Strengthens the arms: Garudasana strengthens the muscles of the arms, including the biceps and triceps, as well as the muscles of the upper back and shoulders.
- Improves digestion: Garudasana can help improve digestion by stimulating the abdominal organs and increasing blood flow to the digestive system.
- Improves respiratory function: Garudasana can improve respiratory function by expanding the chest and lungs and increasing oxygen uptake.
- Reduces tension in the shoulders: Garudasana can help reduce tension in the shoulders and upper back by stretching and releasing tight muscles in these areas.
- Boosts immune function: Garudasana can help boost immune function by stimulating the lymphatic system and increasing blood flow, which can help the body fight off illness and disease.
- Improves posture: Garudasana can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles of the back and improving spinal alignment.
- Increases energy and vitality: Garudasana can help increase energy and vitality by stimulating the body’s natural energy centers and improving overall circulation.
- Improves joint mobility: Garudasana can improve joint mobility, especially in the hips, knees, and ankles, by stretching and strengthening the muscles and connective tissues around these joints.
- Increases mental clarity: Garudasana requires concentration and focus, which can improve mental clarity and help reduce mental fatigue and brain fog.
- Boosts metabolism: Garudasana can boost metabolism by increasing blood flow and stimulating the digestive and endocrine systems.
- Reduces inflammation: Garudasana can help reduce inflammation in the body by promoting lymphatic drainage and increasing blood flow to affected areas.
- Enhances overall well-being: Garudasana can help enhance overall well-being by improving physical strength and flexibility, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting a sense of inner calm and balance.
- Helps alleviate symptoms of menstrual cramps: Garudasana can help alleviate symptoms of menstrual cramps by stretching the muscles of the lower back, hips, and thighs and increasing blood flow to the pelvic area.
- Strengthens the core: Garudasana strengthens the muscles of the core, including the abdominal muscles, which can improve overall stability and balance in the body.
Overall, Garudasana is a versatile and beneficial pose that can help improve physical and mental health in a variety of ways. Regular practice of this pose can offer a wide range of benefits for people of all ages and levels of fitness.
Frequently asked questions(FAQ) about Garudasana
Q: Is Garudasana suitable for beginners?
Garudasana can be challenging for beginners, but with practice, it can be gradually mastered. Beginners may start with simpler variations of the pose or use props, such as a wall or a chair, for support.
Q: Can Garudasana be modified for people with injuries or limitations?
Yes, Garudasana can be modified to accommodate various injuries or limitations. For example, people with knee or hip injuries can perform a seated variation of the pose or use a blanket or bolster for support.
Q: How long should I hold Garudasana?
You can hold Garudasana for 30 seconds to a minute, or longer if you feel comfortable. You can repeat the pose several times on each side.
Q: Can Garudasana help with lower back pain?
Yes, Garudasana can help alleviate lower back pain by stretching and strengthening the muscles of the back, hips, and thighs, and improving spinal alignment.
Q: Is Garudasana safe during pregnancy?
Garudasana is generally safe during pregnancy, but it should be practiced under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher who can offer modifications and ensure that the pose is safe for the mother and baby.
Q: Can Garudasana help with anxiety and stress?
Yes, Garudasana can help reduce anxiety and stress by calming the mind and body and promoting a sense of inner peace and balance.
Q: What is the Sanskrit name for Garudasana?
The Sanskrit name for Garudasana is “Garudasana,” which is derived from the word “Garuda,” meaning eagle, and “asana,” meaning pose or posture.
Q: Can Garudasana help with improving balance?
Yes, Garudasana can help improve balance by strengthening the muscles of the legs and feet, and improving proprioception (the ability to sense one’s body position and movement).
Q: How often should I practice Garudasana?
You can practice Garudasana as often as you like, but it’s recommended to practice it at least a few times a week to see noticeable improvements in flexibility and strength.
Q: Is it necessary to focus on breathing during Garudasana?
Yes, focusing on your breath can help you deepen your practice and stay present in the moment. Try to synchronize your breath with your movements, inhaling as you lift your arms and exhaling as you fold forward.
Q: Can Garudasana help with improving posture?
Yes, Garudasana can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles of the back, shoulders, and neck, and improving spinal alignment.
Q: What are some common mistakes to avoid while practicing Garudasana?
Some common mistakes to avoid while practicing Garudasana include rounding your spine, straining your neck or shoulders, and holding your breath. It’s important to maintain a straight spine and keep your shoulders relaxed.
Q: Can Garudasana help with improving circulation?
Yes, Garudasana can help improve circulation by increasing blood flow to the legs and feet, and stimulating the circulatory system.
Q: Can Garudasana help with improving flexibility?
Yes, Garudasana can help improve flexibility by stretching the muscles of the back, hips, and thighs, and improving range of motion in the joints.
Q: Can Garudasana help with improving digestion?
Yes, Garudasana can help improve digestion by stimulating the abdominal organs, promoting blood flow to the digestive system, and relieving constipation.
Q: Is Garudasana suitable for people with high blood pressure?
Garudasana is generally safe for people with high blood pressure, but it should be practiced under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher who can offer modifications and ensure that the pose is safe for the individual.
Q: Can Garudasana help with reducing tension headaches?
Yes, Garudasana can help reduce tension headaches by relieving tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, and promoting relaxation.
Q: Can Garudasana help with reducing symptoms of sciatica?
Yes, Garudasana can help reduce symptoms of sciatica by stretching and strengthening the muscles of the back, hips, and legs, and improving nerve function in the affected area.
Q: Is it necessary to warm up before practicing Garudasana?
Yes, it’s recommended to warm up before practicing Garudasana to prevent injury and prepare your body for the pose. You can warm up with gentle stretches or by practicing other yoga poses.
Q: Can Garudasana help with improving focus and concentration?
Yes, Garudasana can help improve focus and concentration by calming the mind and reducing distractions, and promoting mindfulness and awareness.
Q: Is Garudasana suitable for people with arthritis?
Garudasana can be modified for people with arthritis to make it more accessible and comfortable. It’s important to practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher who can offer modifications and ensure that the pose is safe for the individual.