Garuda is the vehicle of Vishnu, the preserver/sustainer/protector of creation. Vishnu's name comes from the root vish, which means "to pervade." Visnu sustains and protects the universe by entering into it, never for a moment being absent - just as in meditation you choose an object of focus and then, to sustain your meditation, you continually choose that same object again and again within each moment.
As you do this pose, contemplate what it means to preserve and sustain. Let your awareness pervade every part of your body, your breath, your muscles and bones. Be equally present everywhere. When you find any part of your attention wavering, renew your commitment to being present.
Begin in tadasana, standing with your feet parallel and hip width apart, your arms at your sides, and the crown of your head rising toward the ceiling.
1. On an inhale, raise your arms to shoulder level with palms facing up.
2. Exhale, bring your left arm over your right so that they are stacked with the left elbow on top.
3. Bend your elbows so that the backs of the forearms are parallel, with the backs of the hands facing one another. Wrap your forearms around each other until your palms touch. Keep your wrists in line with your forearms and lengthen your fingers. (If you cannot join your palms without distorting your wrists, keep your hands parallel with the backs facing each other). Press your forearms in opposite directions. Notice the stretch across your shoulder blades.
4. Bend your knees, and shift your weight to your left foot.
5. Cross your right leg over your left above the knee.
6. Wrap your right foot behind your left lower leg, and see if you can hook it over the left calf or ankle. On the top half of your body, left wraps over right. On the bottom, right wraps over left. (If you can only bear full weight through one side, do not wrap the legs. Instead, keep your feet parallel, bend the knees, and take your hips back into a high squat as you would for chair pose.) Balance. Draw your navel back and up. Breathe. Imagine that you're an eagle poised in the sky, still to all outward appearances, but intensely active and present inwardly.
Pay attention to the qualities of softness or hardness in your breath, your body, and your eyes. Notice if your eyes want to bulge and move forward, especially when you focus keenly on your hands. Can you be soft and focused at the same time? Can you keep your muscles active and your breath soft? Experiment with breathing into the back of your lower lungs, expanding the ribs like wings on the inhalation. Breathe like a gliding bird. Remain in this pose for 30 to 60 seconds, then return to tadasana.
Repeat with the right arm on top and the left leg on top.