It’s undeniable that there’s a lot going on in Eagle pose (Garundasana). This standing balance pose opens all the major joints in the body while strengthening the thighs, hips, ankles and calves.
Eagle can be challenging, but the good news is that there’s plenty of variations available as you build up strength and stability. No matter where you are on your yoga journey, it’s possible to soar in Eagle. By the time we’re through, you may even come to think of this pose lovingly as a full-body hug! Read on for our best tips…
Building a Strong Foundation for Eagle
Before we get into proper alignment, let’s take a moment to salute some of the amazing benefits of Eagle pose.
For one, it cultivates balance, strength and flexibility in the body while developing mental focus and calm. It squeezes and twists both sides of the body to increase circulation, similar to the pressure you feel during a massage — and delivers the same release of tension afterward! When you unwind out of Eagle, there’s a harmonious effect on the spirit as well. Plus, enhanced circulation gives the immune system a welcome boost.
This posture is a beautiful combination of lifting/lengthening through the upper body and grounding down though the lower body. At the same time, that means there’s a lot to think about as you assume this posture. One key to proper form in Eagle is to level the hips and shoulders. It’s super common to get all twisted up here, but when the hips and shoulders are out of alignment (i.e. not facing forward), that’s when we find ourselves hanging on for dear life in Eagle! Our desired result is to root through the standing leg in a strong, integrated way.
Here’s a simple practice to develop this balance:
- Stand in Mountain, and send your fingertips forward at shoulder level. Loop the shoulders back and find a lift in your heart.
- With the heels together, bring a soft bend into your knees.
- Draw your right arm under your left so that your arms are in a V shape (sort of like “Hi ya!” arms).
- Begin to sink the hips slightly. Then, peel the right toes up and cross them over the left leg. Stay here, with the toes touching the earth.
Practicing the above posture is a great way to create an awareness of your hips and shoulders. It’s the perfect foundation to work up to wrapping the palms (but not at the expense of the shoulders) and wrapping the toes (but not at the expense of the hips).
For even more support, place your back against a wall. You can also rest your toes on a block to help with balance.
Pro Tips for Eagle
If you feel confident keeping your hips and shoulders level in this version, that’s awesome! Below, we put together some of our best tips for continuing to refine your Eagle:
- Focus your gaze just past your nose.
- Sit down deep, but stay tall. Remember, Eagle is a dance between lifting and grounding!
- Squeeze your inner thighs together. The more compact you make your body, the easier it is to find balance.
- Gently lift your elbows skyward to feel a stretch across your lower back.
- There’s plenty of arm variations you can take. You can cross at the elbows, hold onto your shoulders, press the backs of the hands together or wrap the palms.
- If you’re having trouble crossing your legs, sink your hips even deeper.
- Lengthen your tailbone down while lifting your heart.
Common issues to watch out for: Rounding the spine, leaning the chest forward, crunching the neck. Remember, this is in addition to twisted hips and shoulders! It can be helpful to imagine a thumb peeling the hips and shoulders forward.
Flow With Us at Haven
The best way to soar in Eagle is to practice regularly! Come flow with us at Haven on the Lake to build your practice in a safe community with the guidance of an experienced yoga instructor. Check out our class schedule here.