Garduasana
Eagle Pose
March 31, 2015
Astavakrasana
Eight Angle Pose
March 30, 2015

Easy Pose

LEVEL

Anatomy

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Pose Type

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Sanskrit

Sukhasana
(suk-HAS-anna)
sukha = comfort, happiness, ease

BENEFITS

  • Calms the brain and reduces anxiety
  • Begins to open the hips for yoga practice
  • Stretches the knees and ankles
  • Strengthens the back
  • Relieves mental and physical fatigue

CONTRAINDICATIONS

  • Knee injury
  • Ankle injury
  • Hip injury

HOW TO

  1. Sit down on your mat with your legs extended in front of you in Dandasana (Staff pose).
  2. Bend your knees and cross your legs inward, crossing one shin in front of the other.
  3. Relax your feet so the outer edge of each foot is resting on the ground. Maintain a slight gap between your pelvis and your feet.
  4. Bring your right hand to your right knee, and left hand to left knee. You can rest your hands here with your palms facing down, join the palms together in prayer, or position them in Guyan Mudra. (For the latter, touch your index finger to your thumb, and extend your middle, ring, and pinky fingers.)
  5. Close your eyes. Ground your sitting bones down and reach through the crown of your head to lengthen the spine.
  6. Hold this pose for 3-5 minutes, allowing your mind to become centered. Uncross your legs and repeat with the opposite shin forward.

MODIFY OR REPLACE

Alternatives:

Modifications:

  • Sit on a block or a blanket to raise your pelvis above your knees.
  • Sit with your back to a wall to help lengthen your spine.

SEQUENCING TIPS

  • Sukhasana is typically included at the beginning or end of a sequence.
  • It may be utilized for a brief meditation after Savasana (Corpse pose).

TEACHING CUES

  • Ideally, your pelvis should be higher than your knees. If your hips are tight, sit on a blanket or block.
  • Lengthen your spine through the crown of your head, keeping your chin parallel to the ground.
  • Focus on the breath, letting go of whatever you did before practice or whatever you need to do after. Go inside.

VARIATIONS

WATCH OUT FOR

  • Leaning too far in one direction
  • Fidgeting
  • Rounding the back
  • Overstretching the knees or ankles

Eagle Pose FAQs

What is Eagle pose?

Eagle pose, or Garudasana, is a form of standing-balancing asanas which relies on asymmetry  to help build strength, concentration, flexibility, and coordination all in one. Balancing on one leg, with the opposite leg crossed over the planted leg, as well as arms crossed and palms pressed together, Eagle pose requires a moderate amount of skill to perform correctly. Beginners can sometimes have difficulty balancing and twisting their arms simultaneously, so this pose should be taught carefully, with attention given to overall balance. Once mastered, the Eagle pose is great for improving balance and stability.

What does Eagle pose really mean?

Eagle pose is called Garudasana, where Garud in Sanskrit means a fierce bird of prey i.e. the eagle. An asana is simply a yoga pose or position including balancing poses like this one. 

What is the proper Eagle pose sequence?

You’ll want to start in tadasana and then cross the right leg over the left middle thigh. The right foot should hook around the left calf. Next, bring up your left arm and bend the elbow at 90 degrees. Put the right arm under your left’s elbow, put both forearms together, and then wrap the right hand around your left wrist. Breathing is crucial. Slowly sink the hips to deepen the stretch for your hip flexors and hold. Exit the pose by gently but firmly pressing up from your support leg to standing and release.

Does Eagle pose open your hips?

Absolutely. Eagle pose is great as a hip-opening asana as it gently stretches while strengthening at the same time. 

What are the benefits of Eagle pose?

For opening up your hip rotators, Eagle pose is one of the best asanas around. With a bent knee and a single leg supporting the yogi, Eagle pose is also great for strengthening quads and glutes. Because the user is forced to maintain balance, this pose really helps to improve overall stability. While holding the pose, your students will be challenged to remain focused on breathing and listening to their body.

What are some variations of a traditional Eagle pose?

Beginners often have difficulty mastering the complex twisting and balancing required of Eagle pose so you can add some variations to make it a little easier. Both knees can remain bent and “stacked” side-by-side instead of wrapping or the toe of the crossed leg can be put on the floor for added support during Eagle pose.

When should you not do Eagle pose?

Those that have difficulties breathing, trouble balancing, lower back problems, or any sort of recent surgeries especially to the ankles, knees, hips, or shoulders should avoid Eagle pose.

Can Eagle pose help with flexibility?

Eagle pose is great for improving flexibility, stability, and strength all at the same time. Eagle pose will help to stretch your shoulders, upper back, hip flexors, and even muscles in the wrists and elbows. You’ll also be building your core stability which can help in a number of other flexibility-centered asanas.