Author: Charley Hickey is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross & Fremantle, Perth. She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.
This week in class we’ve practiced Eagle pose or Garudasana. It’s a tricky pose to master and is a fairly challenging balance. Garudasana brings the limbs into the midline of the body and requires internal focus to maintain balance. It also generates a fair bit of warmth in the body as many of the static standing poses do. This is often a surprising side effect if you are new to yoga. It is a good example of how we don’t have to go repeatedly through large ranges of movement to generate heat and strengthen the body. This is what makes yoga so great for anyone unable to do high impact activities due to injury, illness or any other reason.
I broke it up a little for you to make it easier to learn. We practiced the arms first, from a seated position so you didn’t have to contend with balancing at the same time. Then we did the legs and then put them together for those of you that wanted to have a go. Remember that as with all poses, our body always finds its own way of doing it so maybe yours didn’t look quite like in the picture! That’s ok though!
Modifications For Garudasana
For some of you with dodgy knees, it’s a good idea to do the milder variation of the legs. This is where you have the big toe of the crossed over leg still resting on the floor to the side. Over time, this pose is actually a great strengthener for the legs which is beneficial for your knees. However, initially it’s important not to put the knee into a position that is too precarious if it’s already sore or lacking stability.
Same with the shoulders, if they are really restricted, don’t yank yourself into the arm position. Instead, find a way of doing it that is manageable for you. What you often find is a “sweet spot” just between the shoulder blades or a little off to one side that’s intensely stretching. You can then pause and enjoy some deep breaths. This will stretch into the soft tissues around the back of the shoulders as the lungs expand and stretch from the inside out.
If it interests you to read more, here is a link to a nice article detailing the South East Asian mythology behind “Garuda”. Garuda is the mythical bird this pose is named for. Included are some more detailed tips for practicing the pose. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/garudasana-eagle-pose
You can learn more about our classes in Applecross, Fremantle and Bateman here and make a booking here. If you don’t live nearby, we know lots of warm yoga teachers to refer you onto, just email us here and we’ll try to help you!