PINCHA MAYURASANA - FEATHERED PEACOCK
Pincha - Feathered
Mayurasana - Peacock
Level: 2-3 Intermediate to Advanced
Pincha Mayurasana is called feathered peacock because the legs represent the tail feather of a peacock, it is also commonly called forearm balance.
I've chosen to work with this pose over May because I feel after being in lock-down for nearly two months now, that a fun challenge may be just what we need to lift our spirits and strengthen the body and mind. Before you decide that inversions are not for you that this pose it too much of a challenge for it to be fun, let me reassure you that we are going to use this month to work on the strength and flexibility required for Pincha Mayurasana and we won't even attempt to come into the full version of the pose until the last week. The great news is that over April we've worked on releasing tension and stress in the neck, shoulders and upper back so you're off to a great start, check out that post here.
Over the month of May we will build on the week before to cultivate the strength and flexibility required for Pincha Mayurasana. Some of the key areas that we will focus on is improving the full range of motion in the shoulder joint, particularly shoulder flexion (the action of lifting the arms overhead), limited movement in the shoulder joint has the potential to affect the alignment of the spine, pelvis and legs, creating a banana shaped back, this typically results in the body having to compensate and it will struggle to stay in the pose safely.
Core strength is also an important component to focus on as a strong core helps to reduce the risk of a banana back and really gives you a feeling of having control as you come in and out of the asana. Core strength is particularly important if you are naturally flexible and find back-bends easy.
We'll also focus on opening up the side body especially the latissimus dorsi (the big muscle that connects the arms to the spine and the hip, it covers the width of the middle and lower back), if the lats are tight they can affect shoulder mobility and pull the lower back into an arch. If the lat muscles are weak it may be difficult for you to keep the shoulder blades set onto the back ribs and away from the ears while in the pose.
The final component that we will work with is balance, we'll do a little bit of standing balance poses to prepare the body and mind for balancing in an inverted position.
Remember that Yoga is a life long practice and it may take you may weeks, months or even years to become skillful in any particular asana and you may not ever come into the full version of the pose. I still have to use a wall and find this pose challenging, much harder than handstand because of restriction and tightness in the shoulders, so please don't put any pressure on yourself and definitely don't force your body into any shape that it's not ready for. Some people find Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance) easier than Adho Mukha Vrkasana (Handstand) because in forearm balance you have a more stable foundation as the forearms are on the ground opposed to just the hands in handstand.
Lets check out the benefits and contraindications of Pincha Mayurasana next.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Calms the mind
Increases focus an concentration
Strengthens arms, shoulders, core and upper back
Stretches, shoulders, neck and abdominals
Helps with lymphatic drainage
Elongates the spine
Can be helpful for anxiety and mild depression
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Avoid this pose if you have any neck shoulder or back injuries
Diabetes, hypertension or un-medicated high blood pressure
HINTS AND TIPS
The elbows like to splay out in this pose, if that happens, a belt can be useful in keeping them underneath the shoulders. place the belt above the elbow crease.
Use a wall to help you to balance
Look towards your finger tips or slightly in front of you. Your head stays of the floor in this pose.
Take your time and focus on build strength and flexibility in the shoulder joints by practicing Dolphin pose.