Garuda in Hindu mythology, is the bird (a kite or an eagle) and the vahana (carrier) of the god Vishnu. He is described in one text as emerald in colour, with the beak of a kite, roundish eyes, golden wings, and four arms and with a breast, knees, and legs like those of a kite. He is also depicted anthropomorphically, with wings and hawk-like features. Two of his hands are folded in adoration (anjali mudra), and the other two carry an umbrella and the pot of amrita. Sometimes Vishnu rides on his shoulders. In the Rig veda the sun is compared to a bird in its flight across the sky, and an eagle carries the ambrosial soma plant from heaven to earth. The mythological account of Garuda’s birth in the Mahabharata identifies him as the younger brother of Aruna, the charioteer of the sun God. Garuda’s mother, Vinata, mother of the birds, was tricked into becoming the slave of her sister and co-wife, Kadru, mother of the Nagas (serpents). The lasting enmity between the birds, particularly Garuda, and the serpents is attributed to this. The nagas agreed to release Vinata if Garuda could obtain for them a drink of the elixir of immortality, the amrita, or soma. Garuda performed that feat, thus giving the snakes the ability to slough off their old skins, and, on his way back from the heavens, he met Vishnu and agreed to serve him as his vehicle and also as his emblem. The asana represents the role of Garuda, the focus, rootedness and balance it requires to be the server and carrier of Vishnu, who maintains the order of the world.
The asana itself keeps the anjali mudra, but coils the hands and legs around each other and so to the deep core of the body to root and connect to our very centre to preserve and maintain balance. Garudasana requires the yogi to ride the energy of the pose and remain in the present moment rather than resisting it. The physical balance required for the pose aims to centre the spirit too by balancing dual forces such as feminine and masculine, support and power, and motion and stability.