Garudasana offers an excellent opening to the outer hips and shoulder girdle while working on balance. Begin by simply standing at the top of your mat with feet in a parallel stance either feet together or feet a part (hips width distance). With arms hanging free at your sides bend the knees slightly lifting up the right leg to cross over the left leg (remember both knees stay bent here). If you are fairly new to the whole standing on one leg concept, you are most welcome to try this pose facing the wall and simply allow the right big toe to rest on the floor almost like a kickstand. If it is available to you the right foot hooks under the left calf. No need to force anything here, just observe where the body wants to go and notice are you breathing! Allow the left foot to press against the floor observing 3 points of contact much like a tripod: baby toe, big toe and heel now relax the toes spreading them evenly. This is the lower half of the pose which you may find is sufficient for now or you may want to combine the actions of the upper body with the lower body.
To combine the upper body with the lower body float the arms up allowing the left arm to cross first and placing the right arm on top and bending at the elbow. This action allows the palms to press into one another gently. From here you can send the arms up to frame the face or alternatively draw the elbows down and into the heart space. Feel free to try both options for the arms to sense where you experience a greater opening behind the heart between the shoulder blades.
If this coordination of arms seems out of reach for now, simply open arms wide out to the sides and hug back in the arms so elbows are stacked on top of one another at the heart level. Simply giving yourself a hug! It feels great I promise!!! 🙂
If you are at the wall, try placing the whole palm on the wall and shifting into the finger pads, finally allowing only one finger to contact and then no contact at the wall. The wall is still there should you loose your balance you can once again find your palms on the wall.
Aim to stay for five breaths smooth and steady breathing in and out of the nose. Consider your Drishti, a fixed gaze, on something in front of you that is non-moving. Allow the face to be soft. Gracefully release your ‘eagle’ wings and legs wiggling out the legs if you feel inclined to do so. Returning to the parallel stance and repeat the pose on the second side.
Remember standing on one leg is hard period so try incorporating a sense of play while performing this pose. If you feel unsteady simply unhook the leg place the foot on the floor, wiggle the legs a bit and try again. Inhale deeply and exhale audibly with a big sigh (AHHHH) and try it again. Have fun and enjoy
Written by Danae Robinett
Join Yoga Teacher, Danae Robinett of San Francisco, on her third visit to the magical island of Bali. A beautiful island rich in ceremony, tradition and devotion a most remarkable place to journey deep into the wondrous spirit of Yoga.