Eagle Pose or Garudasana

Eagle pose
Ben Goldstein

Eagle looks like your stereotypical idea of a crazy, twisted-up-like-a-pretzel yoga pose, but it's really 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, it's less precarious that most poses where you're standing on one leg. It also works the difficult to access glutes and inner thighs.

And I haven't even begun to sing the praises of this shoulder stretch! It is truly an antidote for the shoulder strain you feel when your work has you sitting at a computer for long hours. I recommend doing eagle arms a few times a day as part of a desk yoga routine to unkink your shoulders. You can do it in your car at a stop light. You can do it on a plane. I like to do it lying on my back right when I get on my mat as part of my warm up. It really does help.

Type of pose: Standing, balancing

Benefits: Strengthens legs, glutes, and adductors improves balance and core strength, stretches the shoulders.


  1. Begin in utkatasana with both legs bent and your arms by your sides. 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.

Beginners' Tips

  • 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.

Advanced Tips

  • 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.
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