Pincha Mayurasana - TINT Yoga

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Pincha Mayurasana Forearm Stand

    Quick Facts

  • Sanskrit (Original): Pīncha Mayūrāsana
  • Etymology: Feather of a tail (pīncha); peacock (mayūra); pose (āsana)
  • Fun Fact about the pose: Forearm stand is strikingly similar to Handstand – they are identical from the feet all the way through the elbows.
  • Asana Type: Arm Balance, Inversion
  • Main length muscle groups:
  • Main strength muscle groups: Pronators, triceps brachii, deltoids, serratus anterior, spinal muscles, rectus abdominis, psoas major, gluteus maximus
  • Vinyasa Breath: Inhale and exhale possible

How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step

  • 1 For Pincha Mayurasana, start in a tabletop position with the palms and forearms on the floor. Your forearms should be parallel to each other and shoulder-width apart.
  • 2 Move your shoulders forward so that they are stacked above the elbows.
  • 3 Make sure your hands are properly engaged (Hasta Bandha!)
  • 4 Keep the neck neutral, which means that you look between your hands on the ground.
  • 5 Walk your feet in toward your elbows as much as possible. Ideally, your hips are above your shoulders.
  • 6 Press your elbows firmly into the ground and move the shoulders towards the ears. This will ensure that your shoulder girdle remains stable
  • 7 Choose one leading leg and lift that leg up while keeping your hips closed. Make sure it is fully engaged all the way to the toes.
  • 8 Engage your core muscles and hug in the ribs.
  • 9 Bend the other leg (the one that is still on the floor) and come right up onto the tip of your big toe. Ideally, you are floating up from here. If needed take a gentle hop to lift up.
  • 10 Close the legs and hug the inner thighs together. Also, squeeze the shins in.
  • 11 Keep the feet engaged and flexed, pressing up through the big toe.
  • 12 To come out of the pose, bring the legs down one after another and rest, for example, in Child’s Pose (Balasana).

Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose

  • Keep the forearms parallel: A common mistake is that the elbows splay out to the sides. However, this will decrease your stability in the pose. For reference, you can either place a block between your elbows or – even better – loop a strap around your upper arms at the correct distance. The strap will also help you to keep your arms parallel and engaged as your arms tend to move outwards.
  • Broaden the shoulders: Many practitioners tend to sink into the shoulders. This will not only make you less stable but will also compress your shoulder, which can lead to shoulder impingement or even more serious injuries as your entire body weight is on your arms and shoulders in Forearm Stand. Instead, press your elbows into the ground and actively move the shoulders towards the ears rather than letting them passively drop down. Think that you want to keep your sternum as far away from the ground as possible.
  • Engage the entire core: You often see rather banana-shaped Forearm Stands. However, this overextension puts the spinal column under a lot of pressure. To avoid this, engage your abdominal muscles and make use of your spinal muscles. As it is very difficult to target your back muscles, focus on strengthening them first in less deep backbends such as Cobra (Bhujangasana), Locust (Salabasana) or Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). If you feel your lower back in this pose, this is a sign that your core is not sufficiently engaged.
  • Activate your hands and feet: The hands and feet are often neglected in arm balances such as Forearm Stand. However, they can be the game-changer when it comes to balance and stability. Really focus on your proper Hasta Bandha and Pada Bandha. You’ll be surprised what a difference that makes!

Adapting The Pose Through Modifications

Simplify

  • If you’re new to the pose Pincha Mayuarasana, you may feel safer practicing it against a wall first. However, avoid relying too much on the wall or even ‘slamming’ your feet against it. Merely use it as a point of reference and only slightly touch the wall with the toes to prevent you from falling over.
  • Use a block between your hands. Place your hands around the block so that your thumbs are on the long side of the block and the forefingers are on the short sides with the palms flat on the floor. Now, actively press your hands into the block and in the ground as you start to lift up your legs.
  • A strap is another very helpful tool. Make a loop with the strap that is as wide as your shoulders and wrap it around your upper arms just above the elbows. This will not only prevent your elbows from splaying out to the sides but also helps you to engage the arms and shoulders.
  • Work on the alignment of your spine and shoulders when walking into the pose. For this, you can ask a partner to hold a block (placed lengthwise and with the wide side parallel to the floor) in between a wall and the space between your shoulder blades. The edges of the block should touch your back roughly at the middle of your scapulae. From here walk in as close as you can. You will feel the block as a reference point pushing your thoracic spine into the body. For most practitioners, the tendency of the upper spine is to become round when walking in. This is a good practice to walk into the pose with an elongated spine, which really activates the work of the shoulders.

Level Up

  • For many practitioners, leveling up Forearm Stand will probably mean performing it without any props and without the need for a wall.
  • If you feel confident in Pincha Mayurasana, play the position of your legs: You can bend one knee, open your legs to the sides, or even bring them in a Lotus Seat shape (Padmasana). There are no limits to your creativity!

Benefits of Pincha Mayurasana

  • Forearm Stand is a great strength builder as it strengthens the arms and shoulders as well as the abdominal and spinal muscles.
  • Practicing Pincha Mayurasana will also help you improve your balance and overcome the fear of falling.
  • Like all inversions, it increases blood flow to the brain, which may help relieve stress.
  • Once you’ve mastered this pose for the first time, you will immediately feel the boost in energy and confidence it provides.

I remember the feeling when I first managed to stay in Forearm Stand for a few precious seconds. This amazing feeling and confidence boost was definitely worth all the preparatory work!

Doreen

Content Manager at TINT | Passionate Yoga Teacher

FAQ: Common questions about this pose

You are probably sinking into your shoulders and, thus, putting a lot of pressure on your shoulder joints. This can lead to shoulder impingement or even more serious injuries. To prevent that, push your elbows into the ground and actively move your shoulders towards your ears. Also focus on your hands and properly activate your Hasta Bandha.

The problem with walls is that they often give us too much of a feeling of safety and it’s hard to let go of that safety. If you don’t want to practice Forearm Stand standing freely in the room, only use the wall as a reference. Instead of relying on the wall and throwing your feet up and against the wall, try to only touch the wall with your toes if needed.

Pincha Mayurasana is a great intermediate step between Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) and Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana). Once you have gotten used to the feeling of being upside down in Headstand, Forearm Stand helps you to build the strength in the shoulders, core, and back required for Handstand.

Breathing in Forearm Stand can be quite difficult as the entire upper body forms the foundation of the pose and, thus, needs to be engaged. Especially the action of pulling in the rib cage can restrict chest breathing. On the other hand, the entire lower body and lumbar spine need to be stabilized by the abdominal muscles. Therefore, abdominal breathing may be counterproductive. This is why you want to establish a smooth and equal breathing pattern that moves throughout the entire body while practicing the pose.

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