Step by step
- From Mountain pose, bend your knees and come into Chair pose.
- Bring the weight into your left foot and gaze at a fixed point ahead of you – this is your Drishti.
- With your arms out to the sides for balance, lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh as high up as you can. Squeeze your thighs together.
- Hook the top of your right foot behind your left calf.
- Exhale and take your right arm underneath your left, bend the elbows pointing your fingers to the sky.
- Bring the backs of the hands towards each other together.
- Take hold of your left thumb with your right hand if you can, or press the backs of your hands together.
- Slightly lift your elbows.
- Keep the base of the neck and your face and jaw relaxed.
- Hold for 5 breaths.
- To come out of the pose, uncross your arms and legs and come back to Mountain pose.
- Repeat on the other side.
There’s a lot going on in Eagle pose with the position of the arms and legs to think about all while you’re balancing on one leg. But you can break it down into separate elements to practice in isolation at first. For example,
- Learn the position of your arms while sitting at your desk (it’s a great stretch for your upper back while you’re working).
- Practice the wrapping of your legs while lying on your back or leaning against a wall for support.
- Build confidence in your balance by practicing Chair pose and lifting one foot slightly off the floor.
Whether you’re a beginner or not it can be challenging to hook your foot behind your calf in Eagle pose.
Instead you can just cross your leg over and point your foot to the floor – or rest it on the floor or a block for extra help with your balance. Keep squeezing your thighs together.
Benefits of Eagle pose
- Stretches the upper back and shoulders
- Improves hip mobility
- Strengthens the ankles and calves
- Improves balance
Watch out for
If you have any issues with your knee don’t try wrapping the foot behind the calf. If you are still able to bend your knees you can come into Chair pose and cross the legs without wrapping the foot. Or you can stay standing in Mountain pose and just practice the arm positions.
- Try a forward bend variation: while in the pose, bend forward, resting your forearms against the top leg thigh.
- Try to gently sway your arms from side to side to target different areas in your upper back and challenge your balance.