All about Garudasana

By Kayalvizhi Arivalan

You’re advised to practise this yoga posture on empty stomach

Garudasana is a standing balancing asana. This asana gets its name from the Sanskrit word ‘garuda’ meaning eagle and ‘asana’ meaning pose. Thus, the name eagle pose. Garuda is the king of birds in Hindu mythology, considered as Vishnu’s mount or vehicle – known as a vahana.

Just like the eagle, Garuda represents strength, focus, the ability to see clearly, and is often seen with a snake in his mouth, representing devouring or destroying evil in the world. “This asana should be practiced on an empty stomach and should be done early in the morning or in the evening before eating anything,” advises Suman Chhabria, Certified Yoga instructor.


Step-by-step instructions
Before beginning Garudasana, one should stretch their body by performing Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Chhabria lists the following steps to perform Garudasana.
Stand up with soft knees and focus your gaze on a spot right ahead.
Transfer your weight into your left foot.
Lift your right foot up off the floor.
Cross your right thigh over your left thigh as high up the thigh as possible.
Hook your right foot around your left calf.
Bring both arms out in front of you and parallel to the floor.
Bend your elbows and bring the left arm under the right, hooking at the elbows. With arms hooked, draw your forearms together and wrap your left palm around your right palm, crossing at the wrists. The palms will be in a twisted Namaste position (Whichever leg is on top, the opposite arm should be at the bottom).
Lift the elbows to the height of your shoulders while keeping the shoulders sliding down away from your ears.
The joined palms should rest in front of your nose, resembling an eagle’s beak.
Hold this position until you find your balance, and then slowly bend the left knee to lower your body towards the ground.
Keep your spine perpendicular to the floor
and the crown of the head rising.
Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
Repeat on the other side.
Pro Tip: In the beginning, people often find the
balance in this pose very unstable and hence they can use a wall to balance and get trained in the position.

Preparatory pose
The practice of Garudasana involves the use of both the arms and the legs while they are in a twist. To improve the flexibility of both the shoulders and hips, the following preparatory poses help to master Eagle Pose.
Vrikshasana- Tree pose
Gomukhasana- Cow face pose
Utkatasana- Chair pose
Pro Tip: One can also use a chair and prepare the hand and leg pose. Try getting up from the chair with the maintained pose.

Follow Up Pose
As part of the cooling process, the following relaxing poses are advised after the eagle pose.
Tadasana – Tall mountain pose
Hasta Utthanasana- Raised arms pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana- Down dog
Pro Tip: The arm position in this pose is majorly useful in teaching how to widen the back torso.

There is an even more challenging variation to Garudasana. From the pose as described above, exhale and lean your torso into a forward bend, pressing the forearms against the top-leg thigh. Hold for a few breaths, then come up with an inhalation.
Pro Tip: You can also choose to sit and do the hand twists which will help relieve the stress in your hands and shoulders while working for a longer duration in front of your computer.

Benefits of Garudasana
Garudasana is all about balancing the body on one foot. The pose helps you find the central point of the body on which it stabilizes. The asana is loaded with many benefits. “Eagle Pose is beneficial for providing relief from shoulder pain.
If you are sitting in front of the computer screen for long hours, especially working from home, you can do eagle arms a few times a day while seated as part of a desk yoga routine to unknick your shoulders or immediately after your yoga warm-up,” says the yoga expert Chhabria.
Pro Tip: As a short-term option, cross the legs but, instead of hooking the raised foot and calf, press the big toe of the raised-leg foot against the floor, which helps maintain the balance.

Common mistakes
The body’s alignment is the key to performing this asana. Make sure that your hands, arms, and thighs are aligned in position. Eagle Pose is usually done with a straight back, so a rounded back is considered to be less beneficial. Hence, watch your back!

Pro Tip: If you can’t
hook the lifted foot around the calf, put a block or a stool under the foot instead.

Contraindications of Garudasana

If you are suffering from knee injuries, this asana should be avoided, or one can perform only the
leg position. You can practice it against a wall to prevent it from falling too. Chhabria strictly advises not to practice this eagle pose if you are more than 2 months pregnant. Refrain from trying this pose if you have blood pressure fluctuations, and people suffering from plantar fasciitis should keep away from this asana.
Pro Tip: People who have balancing issues should not worry about performing this asana.