One approach for eagle pose arms is to cross the arms in front of you with elbows bent and then grab the back of the opposite shoulder with both hands.
You can then use your hands to pull your elbows past each other. You can hold this for a few breaths.
Then try to rotate your upper arms outwards so that your forearms cross. As you do this you might find it helpful to spread your shoulder blades (middle and right below).
Once your forearms cross you can then hook the fingers of your lower arm into the palm of your upper arm.
Once your arms are in eagle pose you can vary the shoulder stretch by reaching your forearms forwards (below left) or lifting your elbows (below center).
You can also tilt your arms to upper arm side to give the upper arm an external rotation stretch (below right). And depending on how you position your shoulders you can also tilt your arms to the lower arm side. (You might find it helpful to bend your spine to the lower arm side also when doing this.)
Another option for getting the arms into eagle pose arms is to reach both arms out to the sides with the arm that is going to be on top slightly higher.
Keeping your elbows straight, cross your arms in front of your body. As your arms cross, bend your elbows and externally rotate both upper arms to move your forearms past each other. You can then place the fingers of your lower arm to the inside of the wrist of your upper arm. If at first you don't succeed you can repeat this exercise slowly and smoothly with your breath. Inhale arms apart, exhale and cross the arms and externally rotate.
Once you can bind your arms in eagle pose you can also practice the leg position separately and then put the two together.
To make binding the legs easier it helps to roll the thighs inwards. Another action that you can practice is lifting the hip of the top leg. With one leg on top of the other (but not bound) you can practice lifting and lowering the hip of the upper leg relative to the hip of the lower leg.
It may help to press the top leg down against the thigh of the lower leg.
Next practice rotating one leg inwards while your weight is over the other leg. In the pictures below my weight is on my left foot and I'm practicing internally rotating the right leg.
1. Lifting the Hip. 2. Internally Rotating the Thigh
Try the same action with one leg on top of the other. Lift the hip of the upper leg and as you do so roll the thigh of that legs inwards. You may find that as you do so the foot of that leg naturally moves towards the ankle of the standing shin.
Note that in this position both knees are bent. You can vary the degree of knee bend to find a position that makes it easier to eventually bind the feet.
Even if you can't bind I'd suggest not worrying about it too much. You can get some strengthening benefits from the pose just by trying to keep the upper leg foot close to the lower leg ankle.
One of the tricks with Eagle pose (like Tree pose) is staying balanced when pressing one thigh against the other. Eagle pose is extra tricky perhaps because the legs are crossed. And so to overcome balance difficulties stay focused on the supporting foot even as you lift one hip and internally rotate the thigh.
When moving into Eagle pose you can do the arms first and then try to cross the legs. I tend to cross the legs first and then do the arms.
Another challenge is to cross both simultaneously.
As to which way to cross the arms relative to the legs you can have the right leg and right arm both on top or right leg on top with left arm on top. Both with have slightly different effects and rather than saying which way is the right way to do Eagle pose I'd suggest experimenting with both.
Friction and pressure are two simple techniques that I use to help my students get stronger and more flexible. These simple techniques also offer a roadway into not only learning how to activate your muscles, but getting a feel for them and your body. Three challenging yoga poses that I use these techniques in are chaturanga, front splits and side splits. While they might not help you get all the way down into the splits, they'll help you feel stronger, and more integrated as you work towards them. And because I've got to pay for my daughters schooling this week, I'm offering a discount on the frictional muscle control videos. (First 100 people only can save over 30%).
Active stretching teaches you muscle control to not only improve flexibility but also body awareness. You'll learn how to adjust postures for better feel as well as more control through a broader range of motion.
Standing exercises for low back pain plus anatomy that can affect the low back and how to use that anatomical understanding.
Experience your body (and understand it) with sensational yoga poses.
Is it a bad idea to heel strike while barefoot running? What are the possible benefits of heel striking? When should you not heel strike?
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Sensational yoga poses, lessons to help you enjoy the experience of your body.
Here are the Ashtanga Standing Pose Vinyassas, with inhale movements highlighted in red.
These seated yoga poses have been organized into a rough routine and include lotus, virasana, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
In this preparation for compass pose use your arms to pull your leg towards you for a seated hamstring stretch. To modify, use a strap.
Single joint hip flexors include iliacus, pectineus, obturators, gemelli and gluteus minimus. Use them to help improve your forward bends.
Sensational Yoga ebooks and videos are designed to help you experience your body while focusing on specific poses, actions or parts of the body.
Extreme stability teaches you how to work from the ground up when creating stability, whether you are doing poses on your hands or your feet (or some combination of both).
The working towards wheel pose ebook teaches you basic body first so that you can feel and control your spine, hips and shoulders, so that working towards difficult poses (in this case wheel pose) is easier.
The Muscle control for better flexibility ebook teaches you simple muscle activation techniques that can make it easier to improve your flexibility. Techniques focus on forward and back bending the hips but can be applied to other movements also.
Building up on the material for part 1, Yoga for Beginners 2 teaches you how to make your body stable for a slightly different experience of your hips and shoulders.
Video: This set of simple hip control exercises help you to stabilize the hip joint and control it. You may find these exercises help you improve hamstring and hip flexor strength and flexibility.
One approach to learning yoga is to simply practice yoga poses. The approach in Yoga For Beginners 1 is to help you to learn to feel your body while doing yoga poses.
Some of the exercises in Balance Basics includes learning to balance on the fronts of your feet as well as on one foot using weight shifting exercises. It also includes exercises for crow pose. I've included videos based on the balanace exercises in the book on this page.