Skip to main content

Fly like an Eagle

First of all, I apologize to everyone for getting that song stuck in your head.  However, it's the first thing that popped into mine for a title because today I'd like to talk about Eagle Pose - aka Garudasana.  This pose is translated in English to "eagle" but according to almighty yogajournal.com, it literally means "devourer."  Garuda was the vehicle of the god Vishnu, which was purportedly identified with the, "all consuming fires of the sun's rays."  You learn something new every day!

It's easy to see why this pose is associated with something all-consuming, though.  You're double-wrapping your legs and arms around each other, and in advanced variations, folding over on yourself.  For some, it's an extremely challenging pose.  Aside from having to balance on one foot, and remember which is right and which is left long enough to get the correct knee and elbow stacked on top of the other, this tremendously challenges the flexibility of the upper back and shoulders, the hips and thighs, and builds strength in the ankle.

I teach this pose a lot in my prenatal classes for women who suffer from pubic symphysis pain, general pelvic pain, and tight shoulders (the latter usually affects all my students, pregnant or not!).  It can also feel very nice for anyone suffering from sciatica.  This past month I've also been practicing it a lot at Bikram Yoga NYC .  I don't regularly practice Bikram (I have some big differences of opinion - not to mention issues with the founder himself) but I do enjoy it from time to time, and Eagle pose is always one of the poses I look forward to the most in the practice.  Although I disagree with the teaching and alignment of some of their poses, I think Eagle is usually taught quite well in a Bikram class.  These photos are both from Bikram students/instructors practicing the pose

To come into Eagle Pose, start by coming into utkatasana, usually known as chair pose.  To do the right side, lift your right leg up and cross it over the left, like you were crossing your legs in a chair.  The right foot can touch the floor if you're still working up to the full balance.  Regardless of where that right foot lands (most advanced variation has it wrapping around the left calf), keep squeezing the knees toward each other, making sure the hips stay level.  Feel like your outer hips are squeezing in toward each other.

From there, keeping your gaze steady on something eye level or higher that's not moving, wrap your left elbow on top of the right.  (Right leg on top, right arm on bottom.)  Squeeze the elbows together.  If the shoulders and back are extremely tight, the hands might not touch, and that's perfectly okay.  Eventually you'll be able to press the backs of the hands together, and then finally press palms together.  In Bikram, they also work toward getting the elbows down so low that the fingers are below the face (pictured right).

Finally, if you're feeling steady, you can carefully shift your gaze toward the floor and come into a forward fold, making a C with your spine and curling in on yourself.

Unwrap your arms and legs, and take the other side.  It feels so delicious afterward!  You've challenged, stretched, and/or strengthened nearly your body - stand in Mountain Pose, tadasana, and notice the effects.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Magic of Brain Gym

I cannot believe I haven't blogged about Brain Gym yet!  That is absolutely bananas, and also sort of great because after a few years of incorporating the little bits and pieces I learned from Shari (founder & director of Karma Kids Yoga and the only boss I've ever had with whom I've also done crazy things like the pose on the right, which she named "fart neck"), I finally took the "Brain Gym 101" course this past weekend to learn more in depth about the what's and wherefore's.

Brain Gym is a lot of things, but what it is primarily is a way to facilitate better learning through movement.  Although it started in the field of education and helping children learn better, everyone can benefit from it.  You may be reading and writing just fine, but do you have a situation where you struggle to communicate your needs clearly to a partner, a friend, a co-worker?  Do you struggle with random bouts of unexplained anxiety that you struggle to release…

Faith in Humanity

The oft-quoted Kathrine Switzer, long distance female trailblazer, once wrote, "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

Marathon Sunday is always one of my favorite days of the year in New York City.  I've spent these Sunday's over the last eight years that I've been here as a spectator and cheerleader, both in person and on the couch in my boot nursing my injury last year, I've been a volunteer, I went down with other marathoners and marathon volunteers to Staten Island after Sandy in 2012 after the race was canceled - and I've spent the last two years fighting to qualify for it.

Next year will be my year, along with my 'sole sister' (I'm making it happen) and work wife Laura, so this year was another year spent being absolutely inspired beyond measure cheering on the sidelines.  Seeing the heart, the raw emotion, the joy, the pain, the absolute love from the sidelines and from the runners is awe inspiring.  Ye…

Grateful.

It's been eight years today since I've been with the love of my life.

A few months from five years married (Costa Rica, here we come).

Eight years and a couple months since living in the city.

Seven years of Friendsgivings in NYC with my chosen family.

Seven years of Karma Kids Yoga - more chosen family and buckets of kids.

Ten years since college; fourteen of the friendships.

One picked-clean, no leftovers turkey last night.  A table of desserts.

And in ten days we do it again with family.

This morning I'm tired, still full, and grateful.