How to Do Eagle Pose (Garudasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Eagle pose

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Targets: Legs, glutes, adductors, shoulders

Level: Intermediate

Eagle Pose looks like your stereotypical idea of a crazy, twisted-up-like-a-pretzel yoga pose, but it's not so difficult if you break it down. It is a balance challenge, but since the limbs are drawn into the body and the bent knees mean that the center of gravity is low, Eagle Pose is less precarious that most poses where you're standing on one leg. It also works the difficult to access glutes and inner thighs. Additionally, the pose is a great shoulder stretch. You usually will progress in sequence from Mountain Pose (Tadasana) to Awkward Chair Pose (Utkatasana) to eagle pose. It's usually near the end of a standing pose sequence.

Benefits

The standing Eagle Pose strengthens your calves, ankles, thighs, and hips as you build your balance and core strength. It helps you develop better concentration. Some people find it beneficial for a low backache or sciatica.

Eagle Pose is truly an antidote for the shoulder strain you feel when your work has you sitting at a computer for long hours. You can do eagle arms a few times a day while seated as part of a desk yoga routine to unkink your shoulders or immediately after your yoga warm up.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin in Awkward Chair Pose (Utkatasana) with both legs bent and your arms by your sides. Alternatively, start by standing with soft knees.

  1. Transfer your weight into your left foot.
  2. Lift your right foot up off the floor.
  3. Cross your right thigh over your left thigh as high up the thigh as possible.
  4. Hook your right foot around your left calf.
  5. Bring both arms out in front of you and parallel to the floor.
  6. Cross the left arm over the right. Bend your elbows and wrap your right palm around so that it means your left palm. (Whichever leg is on top, the opposite arm should be on top.)
  7. Lift the elbows to the height of your shoulders while keeping the shoulders sliding down away from your ears.
  8. Keep your spine perpendicular to the floor and the crown of the head rising.
  9. Hold 5-10 breaths.
  10. Repeat on the other side.

Common Mistakes

Alignment is important. Be sure that your hands, arms, and thighs are aligned. Eagle Pose is usually done with a straight back, so a rounded back is considered to be less beneficial.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

These modifications can help you as you become more familiar with the pose:

  • If you have trouble balancing on one leg, rest your backside on a wall.
  • If you can't hook the lifted foot around the calf, put a block under the foot instead. You can also use that foot as a kind of kickstand by resting your toes on the floor. This can also help you to stay upright.
  • This pose can be done in a chair.

Up for a Challenge?

As you advance, try these variations:

  • Come into a forward fold, bringing your elbows in front of your knees. Bring the thumbs to your third eye.
  • Come forward and then back upright several times to do eagle crunches.

Safety and Precautions

You should not do Eagle Pose if you have a knee, elbow, wrist, or shoulder injury. If you have difficulty with balance, be sure to practice it against a wall to prevent a fall.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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