Eagle Pose or Garurasana is the last warm up pose of the series. Eagle is the only posture in the series that opens up the 14 largest joints in the skeletal system. Beyond improving flexibility in the hips, knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, scapula and deltoids, Eagle also supplies fresh blood to the reproductive system and sex organs, plus the kidneys, which increases sexual vitality and helps clear up reproductive problems. Your central nervous system will benefit as well, due to the way it stretches out the lower and upper-back area. As a direct result of the above, you will also notice improvements in your balance, a stronger immune system due to improved blood flow around the joint areas, and significantly improved mobility of your lower body. Finally, the trapezius muscles, the deltoids, the quadriceps and the hamstrings will strengthen and tone.
To achieve Eagle Pose:
1. Start by standing still, keeping your feet close together and focusing on one point in the mirror. Remember this is a balancing posture so DO NOT move your eyes.
2. Raise both arms above your hand, and then slowly attempt to hook your right arm underneath your left. Cross at the elbows, then again at the wrists, bringing your hands together in front of your face with thumbs toward your face and pinkies toward the mirror. When you do this you will feel compression in the wrists, elbows and shoulders. Increase this compression by pulling your elbows down so your fingertips go below your nose like an Eagle’s beak.
3. Sit down in the chair, and without letting your hips come up at all, lift your right leg over the left leg and put your right foot under your calf muscle. If your foot is not wrapping yet, bend your knee and sit down more. If you lose the balance, arch your upper body back more. You are twisting like wet ropes, sitting down as low as possible, arching your upper body back as much as possible and sucking your stomach in. And hold.
4. Go back to a natural position. Switch sides. Bring your left arm underneath the right arm, and bring your left foot behind the right calf.
Many people get so caught up trying to perfect the Eagle posture that they forget to breathe properly. In Bikram always remember to breathe in and out thru your nose. It is natural to hunch forwards, but keep your spine straight at all times and keep your hands together to maintain proper balance. As you improve, try to get the entire surface of your lifted foot flush with your calf. Attempt to squeeze your legs and joints together to generate more torque, thereby opening up your joints even further. If this posture makes you feel a little dizzy, do not be alarmed. This is the tourniquet effect for your entire body and is a super charge of circulation to every cell. Remember if your thighs are burning, you’re doing the posture the right way. And now it is party time for the rest of the series!
Lyndsey Hemmesch is an instructor at Bikram Yoga Burr Ridge in Burr Ridge.
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