Garudasana, or Eagle Pose, is common to Hatha yoga practitioners. Visually, entering the pose is much like an eagle in flight and the dance of two serpents. One is guided to spread the wings of the arms wide like a bird, then wrap the forearms into the coil of two serpents.
The name of the pose comes from Garuda, half man half eagle; one of the principal animal deities in Hindu mythology. Massive and powerful, he flies like lightning. He is the king of all birds and the mount for Lord Vishnu.
Garadusana, or Eagle Pose:
This is the tale of the eagle man and the serpents
Garuda was born from an enormous egg. Upon hatching, he emerged shining and as bright as millions of suns. The shine was so powerful, the other deities felt diminished in his presence and asked him to make himself smaller. He obliged because he wanted to be liked.
One day, Garuda was informed his mother Vinata had lost a bet and was imprisoned by venomous serpents. The serpents required a cup of Amrita (the nectar of immortality) as ransom. The nectar was guarded by fierce obstacles high up on the peaks of a mountain hovering above the clouds. Garuda felt scared and tiny in the face of the obstacles but rescuing his mom took precedence and encouraged him to go forward.
Garuda encountered three obstacles on his journey:
The first obstacle was a ring of fire. Garuda drew water from a raging river and extinguished the flames to pass through. The second obstacle was a spinning circle of blades. He shrunk himself down to the size of a humming bird (no small feat!) and barely made it through. The third obstacle he flew beak first into a pair of seething serpents spitting fire and venom. He flapped his powerful wings fast enough to blind the serpents and kill them with his razor-sharp beak!
The feat was a win: Garuda successfully delivered the nectar and rescued his mom (and since then has a strong aversion to snakes)!
The story of Garuda shows us how our strengths rise in the face of life’s challenges. Sometimes along life’s path, our spirit forgets how to be big and expansive. The mind will be the first to shut down the heart. Awakening consciousness teaches us to challenge where the mind sets limits. It inspires us to push through fear and weakness and into love and empowerment.
In yoga and in life, when you wobble or fall out of balance, you are still awesome, you are still you! Self-worth isn’t defined by whether you can stick a handstand or get your foot behind your head, nor defined by receiving a promotion or losing 10 pounds. Self-worth is defined by the relationship you have with yourself and your spirit. When we stop trying to fit ourselves into boxes and let ourselves flourish for who we truly are, we become bigger and better for ourselves and others.
As seekers of truth, we need to let our lights shine big and shine out into the world to conquer the metaphorical rings of fire and the venomous serpents in our lives. Take up some space, embrace your power, and shine your inner badass! Namaste.
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About the Author
Steph Schwartz loves connecting people to their awesomeness through dynamic yoga flows and heart-opening chanting. A yogi since 1999, Steph discovered Ashtanga yoga while training for ultra marathons in Boulder, CO. The obstacles she faced on the trail were no different than those she faced on her mat. And the rewards were just as memorable. Practice hard, but surrender in the face of the unknown. Show up with a plan, but be willing to let go of it. Perfection lies in the intention and in the continuous progression. And most importantly, you really don't need to run 100 miles to feel like a badass - you already are one! Steph loves to connect with her students from the perspective of 'we're all in this together.' Her classes are creative, fun and challenging, and focus on breath, concise cueing and hands-on adjustments. Each class begins and ends with heart-opening, accessible chants. Steph hopes to continue to bring people together and build a strong sense of community and connection through her yoga and Kirtan happenings. Off the mat you will find Steph leading Kirtan events, on the trails with her dog Boogie Woogie, eating Asian food, or jumping out of airplanes!
Visit her website at: http://www.mandalamonkey.com/