Eagle Pose



Eagle pose is a posture that generates great stability of the joints and balance of the body.  This pose demands your full attention for its success.  Eagle pose needs you to focus equal attention to the upper and lower body at the same time.  The more you release your muscle tension on your exhales the better their release.


How to: Eagle Pose

Begin this very twisted looking pose by putting all your weight on your left leg.  Bend your knees and though you are about to sit in a chair.  Keep your spine extended long.  Lift your right leg and place it over across your left leg.  It should start to look like you are sitting in a chair with your legs crossed.  If it is possible your right thigh should be above your left knee.  In time and with practice you will be able to hook your right ankle behind the left lower calf.  If that is not possible right away place the top of the right foot on the left calf or press it against the inner left calf.  Take time to squeeze the inner thighs together, this will bring you into a more solid center.  

Keep your hips squared to the front of the mat and try to bend the left knee even deeper.  

Bring your arms out to the side, like you are walking a tight rope and need them for balance.  Open and expand your chest.  Now cross your left elbow over the right in front and center of your body.  Keep wrapping and twisting your arms until the palms come together.  This full expression of the pose may take time and practice to open the shoulders enough to perform.  

Relax your shoulders out of your ears, and keep the shoulders squared to the front of the mat just like your hips.  Gently raise your elbows to shoulder height and slowly press your hands toward the front of the mat until you feel a nice opening between your shoulders and deep in the joint.  From the waist down feel your body sink, from the waist up lift and lengthen.  Maintain the pose for several deep breaths, and slowly unwind the body and repeat on the other side.  Just about every joint of your body is affected in this pose.


Benefits of Eagle Pose

The role of Eagle pose is vast.  Done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits include:

  • Strengthen arms, legs, knees and ankles
  • Opens the shoulder joint and creates space between the shoulder blades
  • Opens hips, and IT band
  • Increases circulation to all joints
  • Improves digestion and elimination
  • Improves balance
  • Improves focus

For the Lay person or Yogi Eagle pose offers many therapeutic applications.  Since it opens the back it is an important pose for people who suffer from Asthma.  It helps to open the rib cage and intercostals therefore improving your breath capacity.  Eagle opens the hips, legs, calves, and knees in doing so Eagle has been known to significantly improve symptoms of sciatica.  When you sit deeply in this pose it releases all gluteal muscles, as well as piriformis.  Piriformis is a pear shaped muscle that lies deep in the glutes.  There is a hole in this muscle that the sciatic nerve passes through.  Releasing piriformis automatically relieves tension on the nerve and brings relief to nagging pain.  Many people find low back and gluteal stiffness due to long days sitting at desks and driving.  Eagle pose will lengthen your back and release your hips to undo all your days stresses.

For the Athlete, while all the things mentioned above will benefit athletes, this pose is great for maintaining strength and integrity of the ankle joint.  Many sports rely on a grinding running and cutting game, like soccer football and tennis to name a few.  The ankle can take a beating.  Athletes must take time to keep the joint open clean and strong for power and longevity.  As well, gamers need to remember to address the needs of the Achilles tendon to avoid a blowout, and this pose recognizes that too.  Your ankle joint need to be strong and agile but flexibility is crucial in order to avoid injury.  Say a player on the football field makes the play successfully but at the end of the play another athlete lands on their ankle.  It may hurt to be landed on however a properly trained ankle with bounce back immediately, or very quickly without long term damage.  Also, any pose that helps keep the hips open will contribute to a healthy knee.  It is the athletes with the most range of motion in their hips that that avoid any major damage or injury to the knee.

Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly trained teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:

  • People with a history of low back, knee , hip problems, should begin with modifications or lying on the floor

Have fun exploring the pose and learning about your body.


About the Author

Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen’s unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy,and nutrition, provide her clients, and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga coach for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, New York Rangers, several major college teams,including Yale and UNC, and  many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea, and ambassador for Lululemon, her writing appears in Men's Health, Women's Health, Fitness Magazine and shape.com.  She has made appearances on NBC TODAY show and many TV news and national radio shows. Gwen also owns her own Yoga School where she trains people to teach the power yoga for sports system.

Gwen lives in the New York tri state area with her Husband, and three teenage boys.