Of all the balance poses in yoga, Garudasana is my favorite to teach. I love to build the pose from the ground up and challenge people’s strength and balance. In this eagle pose tutorial I’ll share my preferred transition into the pose, modifications, prep, risks, variations along with a few tips and tricks.
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Eagle pose tutorial
There are a few ways to come into eagle pose, in this eagle pose tutorial we’ll come from chair pose, and standing balance. Both of these variations are challenging and can be modified. My preferred transition is from standing balance as it helps prepare for the balance aspect of Garudasana.
From chair position: Sit into chair. Lift the left heel off the floor, then lift the left foot away from the floor. Cross the left thigh on top of the right. Kind of like you are sitting on a chair with legs crossed. The left toes might connect to the floor on the outside edge of your grounded right foot. From here there are a few progressions to work towards in this eagle pose tutorial. This can include balance, lifting the left foot and wrapping it around the right calf. Or playing with arm positions.
From Standing balance: Coming into eagle pose from standing balance allows us to notice our balance, and any differences right to left. Stand in tadasana, then lift the left leg up and cross the thigh over the right. Next comes the tricky balance part of sitting into a single leg chair. lots of strength and balance is required here.
Again maybe the left foot connects to the outside edge of the right foot. Then, perhaps playing with more balance and wrapping the left foot around the calf. The arm variations can be added on for more focus and balance.
Eagle pose modifications & Variations
Whether you have issues with balance, strength or binding the pose there are a few options for modifying eagle pose. Personally I almost always modify this pose when standing on my left leg because my left knee is less stable. When teaching this pose I always teach with yoga blocks first to support the legs and ensure the pose is balanced and stable.
Using a chair or wall for support is also an option for anyone with balance or strength issues. When thinking about other modifications and variations we can do this by changing our body position in relation to gravity. My favorite way to prepare for eagle pose is to do the pose lying down.
This is a great option for those with strength and balance issues in standing eagle pose. Or for those wanting to know if the pose is accessible in their body without the balance aspect. Another way to explore eagle pose legs is on all fours.
Doing the legs only in this position gives us access to the leg pattern without again the pesky balance. Again this is a great way to warm up for the pose and really work on hip, torso and leg alignment.
Risks in Eagle Pose
While I love this pose, as with many things in life, there is an element of risk. In garudasana the risk is the standing knee. That combination of internal rotation, adduction, knee flexion, binding the legs AND balancing… well sometimes that little wobble can cause a lot of tension in the knee joint
If at any time during this pose you feel pain on the inside of the knee then come out of the pose, modify or choose to skip the legs and just do the eagle arms. Be sure that the standing leg is strong and stable. If it isn’t, then take a leaf out of my book and use a block for support.
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- Can you do eagle pose?
- How is your balance right to left?
- Do you have any knee issues?