How To Do Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

You might see someone holding Eagle Pose and be amazed but intimidated by the sight of it. After all, it appears as if you have to twist and wring yourself into a tangled menage of limbs while trying to maintain your balance and avoid falling to the floor. 

But looks can be deceiving. While it's true that Eagle Pose is a balancing posture geared towards those with intermediate skills, this is a far less tricky pose than others where you are staying upright on just one leg. It helps that your limbs are brought in close to the body and the knees remain bent. For that reason, this pose is excellent for stretching the shoulders while working the insides of the thighs and the glutes as well. 

Related: Top Tips To Perfect Your Crow Pose

The Benefits Of Eagle Pose

Eagle Pose is great for building strength in the calves, ankles, hips, and thighs. Naturally, one of the biggest benefits of the pose is the ability to improve your balance and build up core strength. As a result of the latter, many people have found that Eagle Pose is helpful for alleviating the pain and discomfort from lower back pain and sciatica. 

Shoulder pain  that comes from staying seated for long periods of time can also be treated with Eagle Pose. Since this posture works at stretching the shoulders,  placing your arms in the correct position for Eagle Pose while you're sitting at your desk or waiting in traffic can make your shoulders feel a lot more relaxed. 

Woman practicing eagle pose outdoors

How To Do Eagle Pose

Now that we've talked about Eagle Pose, let's try doing it. Use these easy directions to help you get into Eagle Pose and hold it properly. 

  • Begin in Mountain Pose, standing with your knees at a slight bend. 
  • Lift your left foot up, maintaining your balance, and bring your left thigh across your right thigh. 
  • Point the toes of your left foot down to the floor, pressing the foot back and clasping the top of the foot behind the lower portion of the calf on your right leg. Hold your balance on your right foot.
  • Now bring both arms outstretched ahead of you, keeping them at a parallel position to the floor. 
  • Widen your shoulder blades along the back of the torso, crossing your arms before you so the right arm is positioned above the left. 
  • Bend the elbows, tucking the right one into the fold of the left elbow. 
  • Raise up your forearms, holding them at a perpendicular position to your mat. 
  • Check to ensure that the backs of your hands are facing one another.
  • Next, press your hands around so the palms are facing each other now. The thumb of your right hand should move in front of the pinky finger of the left hand. 
  • Press the palms against each other (or go as far as you are comfortable), while bringing the elbows up, stretching the fingers up to the sky. 
  • Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds. 
  • To release the pose, start by untangling your legs and arms until you find yourself in Mountain Pose again. 
  • Reverse the direction of the arms and legs to hold the pose again. Hold for up to 30 seconds before you release. 

Change It Up

Modifying this pose can improve your skills and abilities for this pose and others like it. The better you get at doing Eagle Pose, the more you build your strength and flexibility. For this pose in particular, the biggest challenge is staying balanced. But there are other challenges that many yogis encounter when attempting this pose. These modifications can help make it easier for those who have difficulty performing Eagle Pose:

  • If you're having difficulty staying balanced upright on one foot, feel free to use the nearest wall to help you maintain your balance. Keep your back to the wall as you perform the pose. 
  • Sometimes it can be tough to clasp your foot at the lower part of the calf. If this is a problem that you are experiencing, place a block under your foot. This won't just make it easier for your foot to stay in place, but also help to keep your balance. 
  • Twisting your arms all the way so that the palms are facing one another is a common obstacle for many. You can keep the hands placed so the backs remain touching or use a strap. Grab both ends of the strap while the arms are in the parallel placement. 
  • Maybe you're interested in making the pose more challenging for yourself. There's a modification for that as well. Simply perform the pose and then lean forward on an exhale as you bring your forearms to touch the thigh of your crossing leg. Inhale as you release the pose. Repeat the same modification when you do the reverse. 

Woman practicing eagle pose

A Word Of Warning

You should not attempt Eagle Pose if you are currently dealing with a knee injury of any kind. 

Pregnant women in the later stage of their term should also not do Eagle Pose or, at the very least, use a wall to remain upright and avoid falling. 

If you are dealing with any medical issue that impairs your ability to maintain balance, such as low blood pressure or an inner ear condition, always incorporate some type of assistance in the form of a wall or a chair to prevent you from falling over in the pose. 

Final Thoughts

In order to make Eagle Pose more effective for helping you achieve your yoga goals, be sure to keep your body as compact as possible, as this will make it easier to balance. You should also make sure your hands, arms, and thighs are fully aligned at all times. Keeping these parts of the body in a straight line will make the pose more beneficial to you and help you get all the benefits this pose has to offer. 

Want to learn about more must-try balance poses? Be sure to check out the Yoga Society Yoga Poses Blog

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