The Eagle Pose, also known as Garudasana in Sanskrit, is a yoga posture that has roots in Hindu mythology. In Hinduism, Garuda is a divine bird and the mount of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. Garuda is depicted as a powerful and majestic bird, with wings spread wide and talons extended.
In the Eagle Pose, the legs and arms are intertwined, mimicking the appearance of an eagle with its wings spread. The pose requires balance, focus, and coordination, and is said to improve flexibility, concentration, stability, and overall balance.
In Hindu mythology, Garuda is seen as a symbol of courage, power, adaptability and protection. The Eagle Pose represents these qualities, encouraging the practitioner to tap into their own inner strength and find a sense of grounding and balance.
In his original form, Garuda is a massive half-man, half-bird deity, known for his ability to adapt and overcome obstacles. For example in one story, he shrinks himself to navigate through spinning knives and in another he uses water to put out flames blocking his path to retrieve the nectar of the gods.
Garuda’s ability to shapeshift and adapt reminds us to stay flexible in body, mind, and spirit, and to focus on our inner strength and potential. Just like Garuda, we must find ways to shine our light and be unapologetically true to ourselves, even when facing challenges or limitations. Practising the Garuda pose can help embody these teachings and strengthen our bodies and spirits.
In addition, the Eagle Pose is also believed to have spiritual benefits, as the act of balancing and focusing on the posture is seen as a way to quiet the mind and connect with the divine. The pose is said to improve focus, concentration, and overall well-being, both physically and mentally.
Although the pose has been practised for centuries the pose was refined and evolved quite recently. In the early 1980s, the influential yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar was invited to teach a group of students in Indonesia. During his visit, he noticed that the national airline of Indonesia was named Garuda after the mythical bird and that the airline’s logo featured the Garuda in flight.
Inspired by the airline’s logo and the mythical Garuda bird in mythology, Iyengar refined and developed the Garudasana (eagle pose) with adaptations to make it accessible to people of varying degrees of strength and flexibility. The pose requires balancing on one leg while twisting the other leg around it and then bringing the arms up and crossing them in front of the body.
The eagle pose has became popular in yoga studios around the world and is now a staple of many yoga classes. It is a testament to the powerful symbolism of the mythical Garuda Bird as a symbol of freedom, strength, and grace.
So while the roots may not go as deep as the associations with other poses, the influence of Garuda and the eagle as a symbol of power and grace has clearly made an impact on the practice of yoga.
The pose offers physical and spiritual benefits, including improved balance, focus, and concentration, and represents the connection between the physical and spiritual realms.