Pincha Mayurasana (or Forearm Balance, ‘Feathered Peacock Pose’) is a wonderful inversion to practice in order to build shoulder, back, core strength and flexibility. It’s a powerful pose that can help improve sense of balance, relieve anxiety and calm the brain. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, but many people find Pincha Mayurasana easier to practice than handstand or headstand because there is more surface area to balance. Holding the inversion requires a tremendous amount of strength and openness; there are a number of poses and movements you can practice daily to build it up. Scroll through the gallery above and read the instructions below to see how you can start practice this at home:
- First you need to build strength and alignment in the shoulder girdle. Grab your yoga block, place your palms on each side of the short edge of the block (as pictured). In a comfortable seat, such as Virasana, raise your arms over head and begin pressing your palms rigorously into the block to engage the biceps. Begin drawing your biceps back and triceps forward while you relax your shoulder blades down the back to create length in the neck. Draw your lower belly in and extend through the entire torso. After 10 breaths with your arms over head, extend your arms in front of you parallel to the floor. Stay for another 10 breaths here, continue pressing into the block to keep the upper body engaged completely.
- Place the block on the mat then move into a modified childs pose. Begin drawing your hips back and sinking your chest into the mat as you lay your forehead down. This will help find flexibility in your shoulder girdle. Stay for 10-20 breaths here.
- A strong forearm plank is essential to a well-aligned pincha mayurasana. Keep your elbows under your shoulders, shoulder-width apart and press the inner fleshy part of your hand into the mat (this action is very important when it comes to balancing). Draw your tailbone down towards your heels, lift your thighs and tuck your lower belly in.
- Walk your toes in towards your hands to move into dolphin pose. Keep your alignment from forearm balance–shoulder-width apart, palms straight forward from your elbows. Relax your shoulder blades towards your pelvis to create space in the shoulder girdle.
- Gaze forward and begin lifting one leg at a time at an internal rotation; don’t let the legs flop out externally over your body. Work towards bringing your heel over your hip. Continue drawing your lower belly in and the inner palm of your hand to the mat while you lift up and out of the arms (find so much strength that you feel everything from the elbows to the hip bones lift!). Slowly begin doing bunny hops with your opposite leg while you find balance. You can try doing this at a wall as well.
- Once you have both legs up, play with keeping your balance. Lift through the inner line of your body–from the index finger and thumb, to the biceps, pelvic bone and inner thighs.
Note: If keeping your arms shoulder-width is difficult and you find your elbows or hands splaying outwards, you can play with (1) place a block, lowest level, in-between your palms with the “L” shape of your finger (index & thumb) hugging the block, (2) clasp your palms together, or (3) move your hands into a prayer position with the pinky side of your hands on the mat.