Pincha Mayurasana or forearm balancing posture is an advanced aversion that also works as a backbend and an arm balance. It requires arm and core strength, and balance to hold the posture without straining the shoulders or back.
Position type: Inversion
Posture type: Backbend
Ideal for: Arm and core strength and balance
Targets: Core, arms, shoulders
Pose level: Advanced
How to prepare for Pincha Mayurasana?
Arm, shoulder and core strength
Building arm and core strength is critical to doing Pincha Mayurasana. Practice Surya Namaskars regularly, do the low plank as well as dynamic movements such as low plank to high plank and plank to downward-facing-dog pose. Practicing the dolphin pose is a great preparatory posture for Pincha Mayurasana as it not only works on strengthening the shoulders, but also the forearms and overall strength. Practice cow-face pose and push-ups regularly to work on the shoulders. The boat pose, chair pose, warrior poses and triangle pose are great core strengthening postures.
Improve balance the right-way up with the tree pose, eagle pose and dancer’s pose. For an inverted feeling, practice shoulder-stand and supported headstand to get a feeling of how to balance in an invest pose. You can also do the dolphin pose and practice lifting one leg up at a time.
How to do Pincha Mayurasana
Getting into the posture
- Start by practicing close to the wall. Come onto your hands and knees with your fingertips being close to the wall. Keep them a little away so that you can slightly come away from the wall if you are confident. Being close to the wall initially will help you keep your spine as vertical as possible.
- Now place the forearms on the mat and palms flat against the floor. The upper arms should remain perpendicular to the forearms.
- Keep the gaze forward and down. Now, lift your hips and walk your legs forward coming into the dolphin pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana). Ideally, your hips should be above your shoulders.
- Lift one leg up (most people prefer to lift the right leg) and start taking it upwards. Exhale and bend the knee of the leg that is still on the floor. Kick the lifted leg with the foot flexed as your bottom leg hops up.
- Take both legs softly onto the wall. You can even place just the tips of the toes on the wall.
- The head should remain off the floor with the gaze between the hands.
- Keep the core engaged and shoulders lifted up. Now bring the feet away from the wall slightly if you can balance.
- Hold the posture for a few breaths. Try to breathe deeply and slowly.
Getting out of the posture
- Slowly bring both the legs down and rest in Child’s Pose or Balasana.
- After you have gained enough practice, you can attempt the posture without any wall support.
Key alignments in Pincha Mayurasana
- The elbows should stay inline with the shoulders and not move when you take the legs up. This is difficult for beginners sometimes. Keeping a block between the palms is helpful. Place the block horizontally between the palms so that the hands remain shoulder-width apart. Spread your fingers wide and align the thumb and index way in a way that it frames the block.
- Make sure you keep the shoulder engaged and pulled upwards. Do not let the shoulders fall downwards.
- Avoid the banana shape. This is common because you are balancing on your forearms, which restricts the flexing of shoulder joints. The core and back tends to compensate and you tend to fall into a backbend. Practice the boat pose and shoulder strengthening exercises to avoid this.
What are the benefits of Pincha Mayurasana?
This advanced inversion strengthens the arms, shoulders, core and back. It improves balance, focus and concentration. It also helps overcome the fear of falling. It improves blood flow to the brain, relieving stress and tension. It also benefits cardiovascular health, lymphatic drainage, the nervous and endocrine systems.
What are the contraindications of Pincha Mayurasana?
Avoid this posture if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma and heart conditions. In case of a headache, avoid practicing the pose. If you have suffered a recent injury to the back, shoulders, neck or legs, avoid Pincha Mayurasana. It is also advisable to avoid this during your monthly cycle and if you are pregnant.
What are the counter-poses of Pincha Mayurasana?
Practice child’s pose (Balasana) or corpse pose (Savasana) for a couple of minutes after attempting Pincha Mayurasana.
Variations of Pincha Mayurasana
- As mentioned above, practice with a block and wall support in the beginning if needed.
- You can also practice with a strap in the beginning. Adjust the strap so that the loop is as wide as your shoulders. Slide the loop onto your arms just above the elbow to keep the arms from splaying out to the sides.
- Practice dolphin pose for a few days before attempting Pincha Mayurasana. You can try kicking up to get a feel of how Pincha Mayurasana would be.
- Once you have gained practice of Pincha Mayurasana, you can do the Scorpion pose or Vrksasana, which is similar but with a backbend.
Advice for beginners
- Focus on developing your arm, core and shoulder strength. This will help hold the posture for longer. Start with the dolphin pose and hold for up to a minute.
- Be careful of the elbows. Do not let them shift when you kick up.
- Keep looking between the hands.
- Don’t worry if you are taking wall support - you will still reap the benefits.
- Try to alternate between the two legs. If you are confident in raising the right leg, after some time try raising the left leg a few times. This will ensure there is a balance in the body.