Garudasana / Eagle Pose

This standing balance pose strengthens the ankles and is excellent for releasing tightness in the shoulders.  Balance poses give a sense of poise and steadiness and are particularly beneficial when you feel mentally stressed.

Step by Step

1.  From Tadasana/Mountain Pose, (start with the right leg, the above picture shows the left leg) deeply bend the right knee as you gradually transfer the weight of the body onto the right foot.  Lift the left leg, cross it over the right knee, then twist the front of the left foot around the right calf.  Catching the foot around the calf will only be possible if your supporting leg is bent.

2.  Sit down a little into the buttocks so the the right knee bends more deeply.  Tuck the tailbone under and extend the spine upward, so that the upper body is lifting vertically.  Tuck in the chin toward the throat, keeping the back of the neck long.

3.  Inhale and extend the arms forward at shoulder height.  Cross the right arm over the left, then fold the forearms upright at the elbows and wrap them around to bring the palms of the hands together.  Lift the elbows to shoulder height as you extend the hands away from the face.  Relax the shoulders away from the ears, pulling the shoulder blades down the back.

4.  Breathe into the space at the back of the heart.  After at least six breaths, inhale to release the arms and legs and come back to Tadasana/Mountain Pose.  Repeat on the other side.

5.  If you are not ready for the position of the legs, try a modification: Place the outer left ankle on the right thigh just above the knee.  Let the knee move out to the side and bend the supporting leg more to a squat.  If your palms don’t come to press together, make two fists and move the back of the wrists to face each other.

6.  Counterpose:  Padottanasana/Wide Leg Forward Bend with fingers interlaced at back or Cat Pose.