|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 205 ]
In this lesson we introduce 3 balancing postures to complete our standing sama sthiti group of asanas. The balancing postures help to combat nara, which is a condition of psychic dissociation, improve proprioception, concentration and steadiness in the body.
In the Sanskrit language the word Garuda is the name for the mythological bird that carries Lord Vishnu. It is represented as a huge bird with a white face, an aquiline beak, red wings and a golden body. It is the destroyer of Nagas (the mythological serpents representing the dark, inferior, harmful forces), which points to some of the mysterious and mystical effects of garuda asana.
This pose is often referred to as the "eagle pose" in the West, probably due to the lack of an equivalent word for Garuda in Western language.
Note: We perform garuda asana with the eyes open.
- Stand at a distance of about six feet from a fixed point of concentration (i.e., a spot on the wall), with your legs and feet together.
- Bend your knees slightly, maintaining a straight and upright spine.
- Pick your right leg up from the floor and cross your right thigh over top of the left. Continue to wrap/twist the right leg around behind the left and hook your right foot behind your left calf.
- Remain balancing now on the left foot alone.
- Now do the same movement with your arms:
- Start by bringing the left arm up with the elbow bent, the hand vertical and facing sideways.
- Wrap your right arm underneath the left upper arm and continue encircling it around the left forearm.
- Place your palms flat together, then extend the arms straight forward (straighten them slightly), keeping the palms together and the fingertips at the level of the eyes.
- Straighten your spine and gaze directly forward, at a level just above your fingertips, at the chosen point of concentration. Hold the position for 20 - 30 seconds in the beginning, increasing with practice.
- Repeat this on the other side, mirrored in exactly the opposite way (i.e., standing on the right leg, the right arm raised, with the left leg and arm wrapped around).
Effects and Benefits
Arthritic disorder or joint pain throughout the body, especially in the feet and knees, is greatly helped by the practice of this asana. Garudasana removes stiffness in the shoulders and is a good general strengthening exercise, helpful in creating balance and strength in the overall structure. It especially combats weakness in the thighs, legs and feet, the shoulders, arms and hands.
Fatigue produced from walking is also relieved, therefore this asana is especially beneficial for those who have to stand or walk for long periods. Improved muscle tone flexibility in the thighs also comes with dedicated practice.
This asana is a great stretch for the spinal column and has positive effects on lower back pain and stiffness, provides relief from sciatica and strengthens the spine.
Psychically, garuda asana harmonises the consciousness by balancing the lunar and solar energies within ajna chakra. It increases alertness and intelligence, and makes the spirit feel aroused, enterprising and vivid.
The contents of this web page are intended for informational purposes only. One should not engage in any yoga practices based solely upon the directions given on this web page or any other page of this web site. Anyone atempting to perform any of the yoga exercises introduced on this website assumes full responsibility and does so at their own risk.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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