One of my favourites ! Just as its names suggests, this asana helps you hone in on those obscure areas in the body, right inbetween those shoulder blades, literally pulling that tension up and out, leaving you with a sense of freedom around the ‘wings’ of the body. The practice of Garudasana offers the experience of living with less tension, inviting in the opportunity to work towards a limitless freedom, as personified by the Eagle and Mythical Garuda bird.
Throughout my teaching, I aim to offer a sense, a taste of the energetics of an asana, reveal its personality and what arises when we embody the posture itself. You may find my methodology useful for injecting interest into your practice or inspiring you to explore the asana a little deeper.
For me, embodying Garudasana requires;
1) focus-In expressing our center line, we are asked to locate and identify with our spine. In the process of finding our center line, we may become aware of places we cannot move or even feel. We are invited to then move from the points we can feel and direct consciousness through the parts we cannot. To lengthen throughout the entire length of the spine. The neural connectivity will encourage a physiological one. We are offered the chance to re connect and become whole. What greater invitation could there be?
2)commmitment-In our efforts to express the ‘shape’ of Garudasana, we are asked to, literally draw the limbs (legs and arms) together, wrapping them around each other. We’re wringing the tension out of the limbs just as we would wring out the water ‘held’ within a wet towel. In order to wrap, our connective tissue and muscles need to soften, have a sense of ply-ability. There is the beautiful juxtaposition to be experienced from between the hardness of the bones and softness of the tissue. Its here, our previous trainings will reveal how much we have practiced softening, lengthening in actuality.
3)concentration-To balance on one’s leg requires concentration, each part of the body collaborating, everything meeting at one central point. Consciously uniting the mind and body. The act of balancing, addresses one’s ability to connect to the earth/ to something other than one ‘self’ and therefore become more interested in connection. relationship. If we are in our busy brains, we will not feel the floor. The form of concentration that will serve best is a relaxed one; we are required to remain connected to our arms and legs and find the balance point between them, then line this up with the spine, and drop the feeling down through the supporting/standing leg. This concentration is different from practicing ‘single-pointedness.’ Instead think of expanding your peripheral vision. We may feel we sway from one side to the other, which could indicate where we are placing too much stress/weight, when we find our center point, we will find a sense of stillness. However even within that stillness is an awareness of the subtleties of movement beneath. Just like the sense of ‘active stillness’ witnessed when observing a leopard eying its prey, about to explode into action!
Its fantastic how responsive this asana is, literally talking to us and showing us whats going on inside either by us falling out of the posture, noticing we prefer one side to the other, seeing if we too tense or hard in our muscle tone as we attempt to wrap the limbs together, asking us to ensure we practice in a way encourages connection with ourselves and the ground.
Eagles are known for their penetrating and sharp vision, in the practice of meditation, this would be recognised as single-pointed concentration. The eagles ability to see objectively in its observation of the landscape, identify its target/its prey and take action, or in our case-‘seize the day’ is a skill that is useful and transferable within our own urban lifestyles as we evaluate our situations and resources and take the most effective action required to achieve our goals.
Another practical application of what we develop in emobodying Garudasana is our ability to pull everything together. As we practice pulling in our limbs into one central line we are also developing the ability to gather our thoughts and find a sense of clarity within them. This does require effort, but its so satisfying! Its satisfying because we all have just enough to do this, if only for a few seconds at the begining, we still have the structure to increase the length of time we can concentrate/or balance. As we repeat Garudasana, we begin to feel the structure of the body, how we can rest into its edges and curves. We can begin to reach into our form, reach consciousness throughout our entire physicality and embody every aspect of our being.
The release from the bound limbs is satisfying, expansive and very visceral. It fas though you burst open, you feel alive and in this moment you connects you to the breadth of wings span we see on the eagle and Garuda. You may even find that the expansion of the arms pulls air into the body, vibrantly bringing life into oneself. When the wings are free to spread, we can soar!
“The ribs are the wings of the body, Open your wings..” .B.K.S Iyengar