Most postures in yoga get their names from animals or objects that they look like, but eagle gets its name because of the laser-like focus it requires from the person practicing it.
If you’re a teenager new to yoga, be aware that the eagle pose is a whole body challenge that takes muscle strength, balance,breath and focus. As with all standing balance postures, it’s best to practice eagle in a calm way with a clear, open mind.
Tips for Eagle Position:
- Stand straight with your big toes touching and knees glued together. Make sure to keep a steady posture as you slowly bend your knees and reach your arms toward the sky with the shoulder blades realxed and melting down the back. This is known as the chair pose.
- To move into eagle, cross the right leg over the left at the shin and place the right toes lightly on the ground. Make sure to press through the whole of your left foot to stay steady.
- Draw the belly in and up and lift the right foot to hover. Take a couple breaths to get steady balancing on one foot.
- When you feel stable, draw the right knee higher and wrap the right leg around the left, stacking right thigh over the left and maybe hooking the right ankle around the left calf once you’re ready.
- Wrap the right arm under the left arm and weave the arms around each other so that the palms press together.
- Keep the elbows at shoulder height and feel the space across your shoulder blades. Feeling a stretch is good but if the stretch feels too intense, back off and instead draw the elbows to shoulder height and glue the forearms and palms together for an alternate arm position. Unraveling the arms releases some tension from the shoulders and is better for some people with injuries or general tightness in the shoulders.
- Make sure to check your alignment and keep your shoulders stacked directly above hips with the Spine is long and straight as if you were standing against a wall. If you find your upper body hunching forward, back off a bit by unraveling the arms or legs.
- Knees should also be in line with the hips and shoulders and facing forward, which can be tricky when the right foot is hooked to the left leg. If you can’t maintain a forward-facing position of the knees, unhook the floating ankle from the standing leg.
- Squeeze the inner thighs together; this will create tension that will help stabilize you. Set your gaze on something in front of you that’s not moving to help you balance.
- You may need to wiggle around a bit to come into the full posture; often, by the time you’ve finished doing all the wrapping, peeling and pressing needed to come into eagle, you might have taken some of the bend out of the standing knee. Bend back into it, sinking the hips down like you’re in the posture. The legs should feel like they’re working.
Fly with the Eagle
Eagle can be a tough pose since there’s a lot going on with it, physically and mentally. Just like with the tree pose, a person’s ability to balance in eagle can vary wildly from day to day. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t seem to hold yourself up in eagle, and know that it’s ok to have strong balance days and weak balance days. Sometimes when you’re having a less-than-spectacular balance day, it might work for you to keep plugging away at it while on other days it might work better for you to let it rest and pick up where you left off another day. Keep in mind that, in yoga, there are no failures and only results, and you will be very successful in your teen yogi journey.
Meghan Meade is a twenty-something health coach, yoga teacher, high school track coach, freelance writer and an aspiring personal trainer who documents her experiences with transitioning into the health and wellness world on her blog, www.strugglemuffins.com.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Tara Cousineau, Ph.D.
Last reviewed Nov 24.,2014