~In Hindu Mythology, Garuda, known as the king of birds, helps transport the God, Vishnu, & is eager to help humanity fight against demons~
~In Everyday Life, Eagle Arms, is a posture that helps us fight against the demons of the shoulders & upper back~
Since incorporating Eagle Arms into my daily neck, shoulders, & upper back love routine (as I call it;), that oh so familiar feeling of tight, elevated shoulders has slowly started to melt away. And WOW have my levels of relaxation ever improved. Sound appealing? Yes! So here’s how it goes:
Eagle Arms can be taken in any variation, whether seated or standing. As you can see from the photo above, I am in a comfortable seated position with a tall spine.
To start, take your arms out wide like wings, allowing your chest to expand on the inhale. From here, on the exhale, wrap your right arm under your left (once, or maybe twice) until your palms connect. If this connection is unavailable, first remove any self-judgment & then reach for opposite shoulders, eventually walking your fingers back far enough to grab your shoulder blades. **ALWAYS work within your own range & ability. Be sooooo gentle with your shoulders as they are such a vulnerable joint**
Now, send your breath to your upper back, expanding your rib cage & intercostal muscles. You should immediately feel an improvement in your breath capacity. We spend so much of our time belly breathing or taking shallow breaths into the front of the chest, so mindfully take the time to focus your breath towards your upper back, creating more space between your shoulder blades.
If you are in the “hugging shoulders” posture, keep trying to lift your elbows to shoulder height as you breathe. Relax your neck, drawing your shoulders down & away from your ears. Ensure that your head sits in line with your spine & have a soft gaze forward. Smile:) Soften your face, loosen your jaw. Take 5-10 breaths & switch sides.
If you are in the “palms connect” posture, lift your elbows at least shoulder height (perpendicular to the floor) & press your forearms away from you. Expand your upper back through pressing your forearms forward on the inhale. Then, on the exhale, feel the space that has been created between your shoulder blades. Gaze at the tips of your thumbs, Smile:) Take 5-10 breaths & switch sides.
The full variation of Garudasana includes balancing on one leg while wrapping the opposite leg around your standing leg. There’s also an opportunity for a back extension here, if you wish. To do so, continue pressing your forearms away & start to guide your elbows higher toward the sky, leading with your sternum. As you continue to raise your elbows, your upper body will begin to rise & lengthen up & out of your pelvis. Eventually, you’ll have the opportunity to extend further through your mid/upper back, allowing your gaze to rise up & possibly back. Keep your low back long & be mindful that there should be no pinching in your lumbar region. With your shoulder blades continuing to be drawn down & back, soften your face & jaw, & take 5-10 deep breath exchanges before switching sides.
Give it a try! It can be done anywhere! I’d love to hear how this feels for you.