garuda eagle god in Indian mythology
You have had a great day of skiing or hiking but your muscles, even your bones are sore. Typically when we do a sport we enjoy we subconsciously favor one side of our body. The result of a long day of this is that we are a little sore and a little unbalanced. Garudasana or Eagle Pose is both a balance asana and one that can help loosen your joints. Since you are physically wrapping the left and right side of your body you are also creating balance between the right and left hemispheres of your brain. Breath throughout and try putting the tip of your tongue on your upper palate.
Preparation and Pose Tips
As with most poses, especially balance, be sure to do both sides of your body (unless you like being unbalanced). Start by standing in a tall Tadasana and raise your arms above your head, palms facing (photo prep 1). On an exhale, swing your arms outward in a circle allowing your palms to rotate so they face each other just at the bottom of the circle which is down at your thighs. Your right elbow comes under your left elbow (photo prep 2) and you swing your arms upwards getting to the point where your palms are touching and your upper arms are at or slightly below shoulder level. Your back, neck and head are straight. Now, to continue the balance, you stabilize your left foot on your mat. Gently lift your right leg, moving it over your left leg and wrapping your right foot around your left calf. (photo Garudasana final). When you are done you can come out on an inhale, the same way you came into the pose.
Garudasana stretches your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle muscles as it helps you with balance.
Advanced or Partner
If you want to take the pose a little further you can sink down on your left foot bending both knees as you move down. Then, take your head and lower it to rest on your hands which are in front of your face.
Garudasana is a sixth chakra (Ajna or third eye) pose.
Pregnant women are advised to only do simple balance poses, such as Vrksasana. Also, since a balance pose can actually be harder than it looks, if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure be careful.
You can hold any balance for as long as you feel comfortable, but this one is good for five to ten breaths. Do not forget to keep breathing.
Recovery and Counterpose
Move slowly from simple versions of balance poses into more active versions. On Garudasana you can simply shake out your arms and legs to recover. Do a little dance.