The leg position in Garudasana is a rather novel movement and may be difficult to learn while trying to balance on one leg. Get a 2-for-1 benefit of warming up the hips while learning this new body position by practicing the leg action on your back. Begin on the floor in modified Supta Konasana (Reclining Angle Pose), arms at 45 degrees from your body, thighs lifted at 90 degrees, legs extended and spread wide. Press your hands into the floor to help engage your core. Bring your legs toward each other, bend your knees, and wrap your left leg around the right as if you were coming into Eagle Pose from the waist down. Unfurl your legs, take them back to the starting position, and repeat the movement with your right leg. Continue alternating this pattern 5-10 times on each side. This will help warm up the hips and teach the nervous system this pattern of action.
Flossing is a great way to warm up and mobilize the shoulders. Start with your feet hip width apart, one end of a strap in each hand in front of your body. Widen your grip on the strap so that your hands are wider than your shoulders. Keeping your arms straight, raise them overhead as you inhale, and lower them behind your back to your hips as you exhale. If your elbows start to bend, widen your grip on the strap. Reverse the action by raising your arms overhead on an inhale and down in front of your body on an exhale. Keep your core engaged and the rest of your body “quiet” so that the movement is confined to the shoulder girdle. Repeat 5-10 times.
Unfortunately, most of our days are spent with our bodies in a forward rounded position as a result of our desk-bound lives. The result is an imbalance in the muscles of the front and back of the body. Self-myofascial release is a type of deep tissue massage that can help reduce pain, restore resting muscle length and improve proprioception (awareness in the body). To prepare the body for Garudasana, try this simple yet effective self-myofascial release technique. Begin by lying on your back, knees bent, ankles under your knees. Place a pair of yoga therapy balls (or tennis balls) under your upper back, between your shoulder blades. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck. Lift your head and hips off the ground slightly. Begin to pull and push with your feet to “chug” the balls along your mid-back. If the sensation is too intense or the movement is too difficult, perform this action at the wall instead of on the floor. To deepen the sensation, lift your hips higher and give yourself a big hug, drawing the shoulder blades away from each other. Perform this exercise for 30-90 seconds.