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Eagle Yoga Pose

Learning to Wrap Your Arms and Your Legs

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eagle arm position

In Eagle Yoga Pose both the arms and the legs are wrapped making this a stretch for the shoulders and the hips.

Wrapping Your Legs

The easiest way to practice wrapping your legs in Eagle Yoga Pose is to do it while sitting down. You can then use your hands to help. Once you have the feeling you can then try it while standing.

To wrap your legs around each other while standing, first bend your knees and shift your weight on to one leg. With your weight on your left leg place you right leg on top. Then lift your right hip (below middle).

To tuck your foot behind your ankle, roll your right leg inwards so that you right foot comes close to your left ankle. (You might find it helpful to roll your left leg inwards also.) From here you can try to hook your right foot behind your left ankle (above right).

preparation for eagle pose, bending the knees and crossing the legs
preparation for eagle pose, lifting one hip withlegs crossed
preparation for eagle pose, rolling thigh inwards with legs crossed and hip lifted

Once you've crossed your foot and ankle your can try to relax your hips and let your pelvis sink deeper.

To reduce the stress on your supporting leg knee, reach your pelvis back as you sink deeper so that your supporting shin becomes more vertical. Keep your supporting foot and ankle active.

So that you stay balanced when reaching your hips back, reach your ribcage forwards.

Also, so that you can keep your standing foot stable, move slowly and gradually towards crossing your foot behind your ankle. Because your feet are crossed it can be initially confusing trying to keep your balance. For that reason pay extra attention to the foot your are standing on.

Having Trouble Wrapping Your Legs In Eagle?

If you are having trouble wrapping your legs or if you don't know how to lift one hip or rotate the thigh internally, you can practice doing these exercises outside of the pose.

To practice lifting your hip, have your weight on one leg. If your weight is on your right foot, focus on lifting the left side of your pelvis. You'll feel a contraction on the left side of your lower back (quadratus lumborum) or at the left side of your waist (obliques).

When lifting the side of the pelvis, focus on pulling it closer to the same side ribcage (below left).

preparation for eagle pose, lifting one side of the pelvis
preparation for eagle pose, lifting one side of the pelvis and rotating the leg inwards

1. Lifting the Hip. 2. Internally Rotating the Thigh

Once you've got the hang of that action, practice rolling your thigh inwards with your weight on one leg. With weight on your right leg practice rolling your left leg inwards.

Once you have the hang of these actions in isolation try both actions with one leg on top of the other and your knees bent. Lift the side of the pelvis on your lifted leg side. Then roll that thigh inwards. Do both of these actions in such a way that your lifted leg foot moves towards the ankle of your supporting leg.

Strengthening the Hips and Legs

One way that I currently exercise the legs is by not binding the legs in eagle pose. Instead, with the legs crossed, I lift the hip of the top most leg and focus on drawing the foot of the top leg towards the ankle of the bottom leg. I then hold this position without actually binding the foot and ankle. This forces me to use leg and hip strength to hold this position.

Arms and Legs Together

Once you've got the hang of the eagle yoga pose arm actions and leg actions in isolation you can first put the arms in position and then your legs or vice versa.

Also, once in eagle position you can focus on relaxing while you hold the pose or you can work to pull your arms away from each other and your legs away from each other. Try doing this in time with your breath: inhale and work to pull apart, exhale and relax.

Do both actions slowly and smoothly, so that they begin and end simultaneously with your inhales and exhales.

Read about developing balance in balancing on one foot.

Published: 2011 04 04
Clearly defined poses, exercises and stretches for improving stability, body awareness and flexibility.
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