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Posture of the Month: Garudasana (June 2016)

June's posture of the month is Garudasana (Eagle Pose), a standing balance pose that requires and develops focus, strength, and serenity. The name comes from Garuda, the mythic “king of the birds,” the vehicle of Vishnu. The word is usually rendered into English as “eagle,” though the name also literally means “devourer,” because Garuda was originally identified with the “ all-consuming fire of the sun’s rays.”

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standing, balance, hip opener

• Strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves
• Stretches the thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back
• Builds balance, calm focus, and concentration
• This pose is therapeutic for those with lower back pain and sciatica

PREPARTORY POSES: downward facing dog, cow-face pose, wide-leg forward fold, hero’s pose, supine butterfly, tree

FOLLOW-UP POSES: tree, cow-face pose, chair

CAUTIONS: Students with knee injuries should avoid this pose, or perform only the leg position
described in the modification below.

MODIFICATION: Sometimes this pose feels unstable. As with all standing balancing poses, you can
use a wall to brace and support your back torso while you’re learning to balance. Some yogis may
find it difficult to wrap the arms around until the palms touch. Stretch your arms straight forward,
parallel to the floor, while holding onto the ends of a strap. Keep the strap taut between your hands.
Some yogis might also find it difficult to hook the raised-leg foot behind the standing-leg calf and
then balance on the standing foot. An option is to cross the legs but, instead of hooking the raised
foot and calf, press the big toe of the raised-leg foot against the floor to help maintain your balance.
DEEPEN THE POSE: Look at the tips of your thumbs once you're in the full pose. Typically the thumb
tips point a little bit off to the side of the upper arm. Press the mound of the upper thumb into the
bottom hand and turn the thumb tips so they point directly at the tip of your nose.
VARIATION: Here's a challenging variation of Garudasana: once you are in the pose, exhale and lean
your torso into a forward bend, pressing the forearms against the top-leg thigh. Hold for a few breaths,
then come up with an inhalation. Repeat on the second side.

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Here are some tips as you practice this pose:

• Squeeze your thighs and arms together tightly. The more compact you can make your body, the more balance you will gain.

• For greater stability, think about lifting the inner arch of the standing foot so there's a sense of drawing energy up the inner leg.

• Work to keep your hands, arms, and thighs in one straight line.

• Practice just the arms of the pose (generally referred to as “Eagle Arms”) throughout the day to counterbalance the shoulder and neck strain from sitting in front of a computer or driving!

As with all postures, I encourage you to listen to your body and honor where you are mentally, physically and emotionally each day. The pose will be there again tomorrow... practice in such a way that you can be too!

Hollye and the SGY Teaching Team