Galavasana - Mythology and Symbolism

Galava, the good student 

Galava was a rishi, who was a disciple of the great Sage Vishwamitra, known for his irritable nature. Galava's story is told by sage Narada to Dhristarashtra, in the Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata, urging him to stop his son, Duryodhana, from waging a war against the Pandavas, and to accept the Pandava's meager request for peace. Narada tells of his own fall from grace and compares it to the unnecessary hardships that Galava went through because he went searching for problems. The moral is "Don't go looking for trouble".

Gala means throat in Sanskrit (and also in HIndi). It also means a rope. Once during his hardships, Vishwamitra was forced to give up Galava as a servant in exchange for food. At that time a rope was tied around the neck of Galava and hence the name stuck.

Galava gets into trouble

Galava was a great student and served his teacher, Vishwamitra, well. Vishwamitra was pleased with Galava and when his studies were over, blessed him and bid him goodbye. Galava, asked Vishwamitra what Guru Dakshina (Guru's fees) he needed to which Vishwamitra said that since Galava served him well during his time at the Ashram, he did not need any. However, Galava pestered Vishwamitra to accept a Dakshina, knowing well that Vishwamitra had a short temper. After importuning him many times, Vishwamitra gets irritated and asks for 800 white steeds, with one black ear.

Here started Galava's trials. Fortunately Suparna (the beautiful feathered one), commonly known as Garuda, the king of birds, helps him. FInally a beautiful and virtuous princess named Madhavi helps them fulfuil the task.

The moral is -"Don't chase trouble".


Galavasana, named after Galava, comes in the third series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. It is also called Eka Pada Galavasana in some traditions. It is less obvious why this asana got this name as compared to, for example, Ashtavakrasana. In is entered into through the headstand, with the folded leg, nicely tucked toward the chest using the non-folded leg as shown below.

Reference : Story of Galava in the Mahabharata