Garudasana ~ Eagle Pose

Garuda carrying Vishnu
Photo from: http://zentrify.blogspot.ca/2011/11/some-thoughts-on-garudasana-eagle-pose.html

The story of Garudasana as told in Myths of the Asanas by Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij starts when Garuda was born from a huge egg. He appeared as radiant as a million suns. With the head, wings, talons and beak of an eagle and the body and limbs of a man, Garuda was an imposing figure. The gods asked him to reduce his size as his power scared them. He did as they asked.
Garuda’s mother, Vinata, lost a bet with the snakes and was held captive by them in an underground serpent city called Patala. The serpents said they would not release her unless Garuda brought a cup of amrita (nectar that makes one immortal) from its place atop a celestial mountain. To get to it, one must pass through three deadly obstacles.
The first obstacle was a ring of fire. Garuda was easily able to pass through the ring by gulping the water from a few rivers to extinguish the fire. The second obstacle was a circular door with a spiked metal ring that spun in its frame. Garuda used his mystical powers and became very small so he was able to pass through without any problem at all. The last obstacle was two venomous serpents. Garuda flapped his wings wildly, blinding the two snakes. He then killed them with his powerful beak.
Garuda delivered the nectar to the serpents holding his mother. Just as they were about to drink it, the chief demigod Indra showed up with some other gods to reclaim the stolen nectar. A few drops were all that the serpents were able to get. But the nectar is very powerful and did have an effect on them. It split their tongues in two, which is why, according to legend, snakes have a bifurcated tongue. The serpents held up their part of the bargain anyway, and released Vinata.
Just as Garuda was larger than life to begin, we are larger than life in our spiritual form, but have reduced our size and energy. Our spiritual potential remains somewhat hidden. We too are constantly faced with obstacles to overcome, which we can easily do by turning to our divine nature.
Garudasana, or eagles pose, starts in mountain pose and begins to bend the knees. One leg wraps over the other and if possible, hooks behind the calf of the opposite leg. The arm on the side of the lifted leg comes under the other arm and then the forearms wrap.  We become very small while twisted up in garudasana and then release and become large again.
Photo from: http://cailincallahan.blogspot.ca/2011/12/garudasana.html


14 Comments on “Garudasana ~ Eagle Pose

  1. Have you read “Ka” by Roberto Calasso?! This blog post reminds me of the tale of Garuda as laid out there. The book is so interesting and intricate—it is taking me a bit of time to read, but this post was great as it summed up Garuda’s experience very succinctly, and I love the modern day connection you make with Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and the way Garuda’s history translates into that yoga pose. Thanks!

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  5. Reblogged this on Yoga With Maheshwari and commented:

    “No matter how twisted we are on the outside, inside we remain calm” – this is just one lesson of garudasana, eagle pose. But there’s more: read the story of this pose and help it to uncover your potential.

  6. I remember when I began my practice, this is one of those poses that annoyed the heck out of me. Not only did I suck at balance, but the contortions I needed to do, when my hips were so tight like a twisted knot, didn’t make sense to me why I needed to squeeze myself even more, in a twisted form.
    But as I continued each day, getting comfortable with the pose, getting to know my body more and more, the release Garudasana gives us is true to what you said, we are definitely magnified than what we only think we are…
    Along the path, we realize that it is not annoying – Garudasana, or whatever pose we tend to have difficulty with. What truly is annoying is our own ego.
    Great story, Reena. Thank you! xo

    • Yoga is so good for getting to know our ego and moving past it. Glad you enjoyed this story. I love the myths behind the postures 🙂

      • The myths you share are very reflective. I’m not all familiar with the stories behind the poses, why the name were given to them… so I really appreciate what you share here.
        The myths help us understand the pose itself, deeper than merely getting into the pose, as what most people do. There is a purpose beyond the physical aspect. =)

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  8. Love reading the backstory to the pose! And thanks for stopping by Self-help Health and liking my current post. I always appreciate when someone decides to do that, plus it helps lead me back to what they’re up to, like this interesting and informative post of yours!

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