Well after a couple of strengthening postures it’s now time to get some flexibility into the joints of the body and you can be rest assured that the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles will all benefit from the Eagle Pose. And of course because it is the start of a few balancing postures it’s great for your focus and centering of the mind. In fact in order to balance you will need to have your mind focussed! The easiest way for me is to gaze at one spot in the mirror and hold it there. This I find gives me so much more strength and determination than if I look at different things and let my mind wander.
You start off the posture as normal with your feet together and then give your arms a big swing out sideways to get the momentum to be able to cross them. If you’ve given your arms a big swing you should be able to cross your elbows. If possible bring your palms together (if not – no worries – just interlace your fingers for now). The thumbs stay uncrossed but they should be facing you and the pinkie fingers will be nearest to the mirror. Then make sure you pull the hands down so the fingertips are below the nose. This Bikram adjustment differs to most methods of yoga but it will make sure that the heart is being worked. Again as always if you cannot get into the whole posture just do the best you can!
Now to get the leg wrapped around the other, bend your knees and keep your back straight. The dialogue says to sit down as if your hips are touching the chair. If you lean forward you will find it much more difficult to wrap the leg around as you’ve made a bigger distance to cover. The easiest and best way is to keep straight but just bend the knees, then lift the leg as high as possible. This will definitely make it easier to wrap your leg around the standing leg.
Naturally everybody is different and for some students it may seem impossible to be able to do this but just know and be willing that shifts in the body can happen at any time so don’t write it off as impossible – I have seen many miracles with this yoga! If you give your 100% effort you will get 100% benefit no matter whether you are in the full position or not.
By the way as this is a left and right brain exercise ( a bit like Brain Gym!) if your right arm is under, your right leg is over and vice versa.
Once in position there’s still stuff to work on – it is Bikram’s after all! Squeeze your legs together as if like ropes – this will also do wonders for the inner thighs! If you can, try and get the foot underneath the left calf muscle by sliding it down towards the ankle so there is no gap between them and eventually you will see your toes in the mirror!
By now it’s also time to try and straighten the spine by pushing it back (just like in Awkward Pose). Then as if you haven’t got enough to concentrate on, bring your knees to the right and upper body to the left just enough for you to align the body so that all the joints e.g. feet, knees, elbows and hands are in one line down the centre.
If you find that the foot is slipping out just bend the knees more and sit down lower and by leaning back a bit more you will be able to hold the balance. To top it off you suck in your stomach just like in almost all of the Bikram postures. Believe me, when I was told to pull in my stomach as well as everything else, I have to admit I was saying a few naughty words under my breath! However now I know that this adjustment alone has an amazing effect on the body, the mind, and the posture. To finish, pull the elbows down more (works the heart) and give that spine one last lean back towards the end.
Then you have the same pleasure to repeat on the other side!
A summary of the main points are:
- Keep your eyes focussed on one spot on the mirror in order to balance
- Give a big arm swing and aim for palms together if you can
- Bring the elbows down the front of the body so that the fingertips are below the nose (works the heart)
- Bend the knees but don’t lean forward in order to get the leg wrapped round
- Aim for no gap between the ankle and calf muscle by sliding the foot down towards the ankle to get it below the calf muscle
- Squeeze those legs together and twist them like ropes – great for the inner thighs!
- Adjust your legs and body so all the joints are in one line down the centre of the body
- Sit further down with a straight back to keep the leg and foot wrapped around
- Straighten your spine and lean back a bit to keep the balance
- Pull the elbows down one more time at the end
The benefits of Eagle Pose are:
- Creates flexibility in all the joints of the body – shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles
- Fresh blood goes to the sexual organs and kidneys increasing sexual power and control
- Firms the limbs
- Great for getting a stretch to the upper back, neck and shoulders to relieve tension
- Flattens the stomach if you pull it in during the posture
- You can get away with doing this posture at work!
- Centres and focusses the mind
Next up is Standing Head to Knee in a few days or so….Beverley