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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Eagle Pose ~ GARUDASANA ~ Balance Posture

Balance posture exercises consists of postures requiring ultimate balance. In this type of exercise the retina of the eye, the muscle spindles, the semicircular canals, the cerebellum & the cerebral cortex are involved and educated. The nervous system is strengthened and neuromuscular control is developed. This type of exercise also plays a part in improving ones overall general physical condition. Its special significance in Yoga is that it develops WILLPOWER & CONCENTRATION. During exercise the mind should be concentrated on the movement, especially on the final attitude/Form. The real VALUE of the BALANCE posture exercise Lies in its static form. 

If there is anything in us that is mythic, that ought to be a good place to redefine who we are.  Once upon a time, there were eagles the size of forests and men looked to them for things like strength, courage, bravery of a warrior.  Eagles who hunted.  Some say the eagle could lift a wing and the wind it made would move the sea like a hurricane, revealing the sea monsters, and the eagles would feed.

Garuda was such an eagle, with the features of a man.  He carried Lord Vishnu across the earth.  He was majestic, fierce; Garuda is usually translated to eagle but an older translation reads “devourer”, relating the warrior bird to the all consuming fire of the sun’s rays.

In the way of myth, which is more truthful than the way of common sense and opposites, Garuda was also a symbol of compassion, protection, and nuturance.  He stands over mountains, tenderly watches over temples, his hand in abhaya – (protection, do not fear) mudra.  Garuda was strong, fierce, a hunter. He devoured the serpents of the world without being harmed.  He is the conqueror of thirst.  There are few symbols in the world for that which overcomes the dangerous…the poisons, the darkness, the hooks we all catch ourselves up on.  Garuda is one.

Resolve, steadiness, that raptor’s eye and the fire of the sun transform our poisons into medicine.  Protection is compassionate.  Eagles, hawks, the raptors, are creatures of vision, observance, wisdom.

Assume the pose and you assume the qualities of the thing.  The asana invokes the mythic bird; this is the practice of strength, flexibility, endurance.  The difficultly of balance, the listing from side to side, teaches unwavering concentration, steady gaze, an eagle’s sight.  That concentration, that steadiness, is an actual calming of the mind.  A stimulant and sedative all at once: rush the awareness, steady the mind.

We have our demons and our serpents.  The physical posture of garudasana is one of compression, stimulation, and potency.  We contort ourselves, pull in, hang on.  The twisting actually serves as an opening: our wrapt arms open the wings of the shoulder blades, our bent and twisted legs activate the synovial fluid, opening hips, knees, ankles, stimulating the sex organs and seat of creativity.  Concentrate and concentrated.

This is how we transmute thirst into wisdom, how we take our poisons and make them benign.  In order to transform a thing, an emotion, a characteristic, a fact of life, we need to concentrate on it, protect ourselves from its danger, find steadiness and build our endurance.

Eagle relieves tension of the shoulders, neck and upper back.  It drives strength into the lower limbs and works the core.  Eagle coils and recoils, weaving flexibility into each of the 12 major joints in the body – ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists.  The kidneys are flushed clear, oxygenated blood floods the reproductive organs.  The central nervous system is called up and focused, that brain and spinal cord who integrate the information in our body, co-ordinate our movements.  This is about balance, grace, and a steady mind.  This is about fierce potency, power, creativity, and the heart of a hunter.

Garudasana is the gargoyle protecting the heart’s temple, the egg that seeds our capacity to fly.

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