Garudasana builds the leg muscles. More specifically, it stretches and strengthens the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. The asana also stretches the shoulders. It allows for a deep stretch in the hips, including the deep external rotators in the hips, upper back and shoulders. It opens the 14 largest joints in the skeletal system. As a twist, the asana has a cleansing effect and flushes out toxins while improving circulation. When you twist into the pose, blood circulation is cut off to the scapula, deltoids, wrists, elbows, hips, knees and ankles, so when you unwind, fresh oxygenated blood rushes to these joints. The fresh blood also supports the muscles and is supplied to the kidneys and sexual organs. In Chinese medicine, the health of the kidneys is related to the muscular system. The asana keeps muscles loose which is important in maintaining healthy joints and ligaments. Tight muscles damage joints, pulling them out of alignment. Tight muscles also restrict mobility and flexibility thus good muscle health through asanas such as gardusana is essential. It strengthens the Lattissimus dorsi, the deltoids and the trapezius.
This asana is symbolic of an Eagle that’s free flying yet steady and focused, scanning the environment with an eye of precision for its next meal. The eagle soars to great heights with piercing vision, taking in the broader view. To me this is representative of keeping in mind life’s greater plans while staying focused and directed in the present moment on our current journey. The essence of the asana is strength while yielding and flexible.
COMING INTO the pose...
Close the eyes and focus on muladhara chakra, imagining a soft flowing warm light bathing the root chakra. Open the eyes and find a point of focus. Ground yourself through your standing left leg, inhale and then bent the right leg, raising the foot from the floor above the left knee and then wrapping the right leg around the left leg. The back of right thigh should rest on the top of the left thigh. Take a breath here and then continue to wrap the right leg around the left leg, moving the right foot behind the left calf and hooking the right big toe on the inner side of the left ankle. Inhale and bend the elbows, raising the arms and twisting the forearms around each other, bringing them in front of the chest and (attempting) to bring the palms together like the beak of a bird. If one is unable to put their palms together, then allow the fingers to rest in the palm of the hands or wrap around the wrist. Here take five breaths. Then gently unfurl the limbs. Stand in Tadasana or Mountain pose for a few breaths and observe the effects of the posture.