Stress relief in the now – an instant stress relief series: Eagle Pose

Garuḍāsana - Eagle Pose 2 in side view

By lululemon athletica (Flickr: Yoga Journal Conference) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

We know that yoga is supposed to be the best way to relax, I’m sure there are people who would say that it is the ultimate way to relax. For those of you who don’t really practice yoga and are not familiar with it, yoga is basically a spiritual discipline that includes breath control, meditation and a lot of specific poses. You can think of yoga as a type of exercise where the goal is to relax and strengthen your mind and body rather than to build muscle. Yoga has a lot of poses that you are supposed to hold for specific amounts of time; some are pretty simple, others are so complicated that you can’t figure out where the start is and where the finish is. The yoga pose I am talking about today is called the eagle pose.

The eagle pose is a relatively simple yoga pose and can supposedly relax you almost instantly. I plan to try it out for myself later so I’ll let you know once I’m done if it worked for me. So let’s go into some detail about the pose.

The pose is originally called the Garudasana which comes from the Sanskrit work “Garuda” the name of the king of the birds in Hindu mythology, and “Asana” which means “posture” or “seat”.

This article titled, “Relieve Stress Naturally With Eagle Pose” written by Sara Ivanhoe and posted on health.com, tells you exactly how to pull it off, but just to save time I’ll summarise the steps here.

  1. First stand up and put your right arm in front of you in an L shape.
  2. Wrap your left arm under your right arm so that your left elbow is under your right elbow and then bring your left palm to your right wrist and rest it there. If you can’t do that then you can just hug yourself and hold on to your shoulders. I couldn’t bring my palm to my wrist so I had to resort to holding my shoulders; I need to work on my flexibility.
  3. Lift your arms up and away from your face. That’s the upper body done; now it’s time for the lower body.
  4. Bring your feet together and bring yourself down like you are sitting on a chair or hovering over the seat of a chair.
  5. Make sure you lower yourself so that your thighs are parallel to the floor or as close as you can get to that.
  6. Pull your stomach up and in and bring your tail bone down. You good so far? Okay, moving on.
  7. Lift your left leg up and wrap it around your right so that your left knee is above your right knee.
  8. Wrap your lower leg around so that your left calf is touching your right shin and your left toes are touching your right ankle. If you’re confused then just refer to the picture above.
  9. Now hold the pose and take 5 to 15 deep breaths.
  10. Stand back up normally and repeat the process in reverse.

You don’t have to follow this exact order, if you want you can start by squatting down first and then wrapping your arms and then your legs, it’s up to you.

Of course if reading the above instructions has just left you confused with no idea what to do, then you can just watch this video.

So what benefits does doing this pose have? Well there are the physical benefits:

  • It strengthens and loosens your ankles, calves and hips.
  • It strengthens and loosens your wrists and shoulders
  • Releases tightness between your shoulder blades
  • Strengthen your legs
  • Better balance

And then there are the mental benefits:

  • More confidence in yourself
  • More relaxed overall
  • Less stress
  • Better focus

You can learn more about the eagle pose, its benefits and other stuff from this article where I got some of my information, “Eagle Pose,” posted on yogajournal.com.

Now the question is, does it actually give all these benefits? Well I did it and I’m sold. When I was doing the pose, I had to really focus on keeping my balance or risk falling on the cold hard floor (that’s not true, I had a yoga mat under me). I was so focused that I couldn’t think of anything else, and there was a lot of stress on my thigh muscles (that stuff burns) and when I got up the wave of relief relaxed me almost immediately. I think if I do it often it will probably help me in the long term too. So go ahead and try it out for yourself. I will say this though, this pose puts a lot of stress on your body especially your legs, so if you suffer from any physical ailments like a bad injury, arthritis or something like that then make sure to get advice from a professional before trying this out, you want to make things better not worse. Otherwise enjoy soaring the skies like an eagle, or at least pretending to!

 

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