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Flexible Friday – Upper Back & Shoulder Stretch

By May 3, 2012April 16th, 20147 Comments

Eagle Stretch For the Upper Back and Shoulders



*Garuda = the mythic “king of the birds” which translates into eagle

How To Perform:

  1.  From standing shift your weight onto the left leg.
  2. Bend the right leg, lifting the foot and cross your right thigh over your left.
  3. Hook the right foot around the left calf.
  4. Bring the arms out in front.
  5. Cross the left arm over the right and bring the palms to touch.
  6. Lift the elbows while keeping the shoulders sliding down the back.
  7. When a steady balance is maintained, twist the upper torso to face left and crunch towards your right knee.
  8. Place right elbow on the inner (medial) side of the right knee.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

Beginners: If you have trouble with the balance, rest your backside on a wall. If you can’t hook the lifted foot around the calf, cross at the ankle as shown.

Advanced: Start to come into a forward bend, bringing the elbows in front of the knees. Bring the thumbs to your third eye.



  • Strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves
  • Stretches the quadriceps, hip flexors, shoulders, and upper back muscles
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves sense of balance

See also: Upper Back Stretch

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Anna says:

    This is just what I was looking for! I have done a similar stretch in yoga, but not exactly like this. I’ll give it a try, thanks! You look super ripped but still feminine and beautiful!

  • Susan says:

    Hi Flavia, I love eagle pose (I am a certified yoga teacher). I use it after every shoulder and back workout. So awesome! I think your photos are confusing though as you are not showing eagle arms (the best part of the pose). You do mention to cross your arms. When I cue eagle arms when teaching, it goes something like this – Spread your arms out (like eagle wings 😉 ), then cross your upper arms – right over left. Now bend your elbows so that your fingers are pointing towards the sky then wrap your forearms. Bring the backs of your palms to touch or your palms if accessible. Lift your elbows to shoulder height as you draw your hands away from your face. Slightly draw your shoulders away from your chest (to avoid collapsing your chest). Release your arms and repeat on the other side.

    Sometimes I draw my elbows down towards the floor and lower my head (centre, one side and the other to change up the stretch. I find both versions really effective for the upper back in particular 🙂

    Anyway, great form in your pics Flavia (as always!)


  • Dana says:

    If I had to ask for a stretch, this would be it! My shoulders are always tense. I’m excited to try it, thank you for sharing! Also, this is pretty off-topic but do you have any suggestions for a lightened up margarita to enjoy for Cinco De Mayo? I remember you sent out a different type of drink recipe a while back but can’t find it and margaritas seem to be the theme of this particular party 🙂

  • Anna says:

    Happy Birthday Pappa Luch!!! I can’t wait for the new program 🙂

  • KimA says:

    Hi Flavia. Fantastic! I’ve never heard of this stretch before. This could replace about 5 separate stretches, for those 5 body areas. Or should I only use this to add to the stretches that I already do?

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