Pincha Mayurasana, what the whata?
I know, it’s quite the fancy name for a yoga posture, but if you know the pose, practice it, or have attempted to practice it – then you know the posture definitely deserves it.
And here’s why:
- The body is upside down, like toes up in the air and head facing down
- It requires a hella lot of upper body strength
- Fear and ego are not invited to the party, and as we all know, they hate not receiving an invitation
- It requires consistent practice and patience, two hard concepts to integrate
- Full body presence is necessary, meaning zero distractions
Is the fancy ass name starting to make sense?
Because pincha mayurasana is so intense, but equally incredible, I want us all to understand it and build up to doing the posture. And if you’re thinking this pose will never exist in your yoga practice, think again. It’s a doable posture, so long as you put forth the effort – consistent practice + patience.
With that being said, below are 10 poses to prep for forearm balance!
1. Forearm Plank
Forearm plank is the ultimate ball buster pose.
As you can see from the photo below, it requires full body integration from the toes up through the head. A few key pointers:
- Practice with your arms shoulder width distance, wrists in line with the elbows and the shoulders spreading away from one another.
- Scissor the body into the mid-line, as you hug the belly up and sink the tailbone down to your heels.
- Engage your legs, make them work for ya!
Practice this pose every damn day, starting at five breaths and working up to a minute hold, and you’ll quickly be on your way to pincha mayurasana!
2. Dolphin Pose
Oh dolphin pose, just looking at you makes my body feel it.
This pose is no joke, and in my humble opinion, it’s ten times harder than forearm balance. But, if you’re new to the upside down world, this posture is CRUCIAL to your success. A few helpful pointers as you journey into dolphin pose:
- Start in downward facing dog, drop to your forearms, and walk the toes towards your face.
- Your chest will want to sink here, lift up and away from the ground to create space and strength in the shoulder girdle area.
- Stay for a few breaths and slowly work up to holding it longer, longer, and essentially until you can’t take it any more.
- If this pose is too much, either place a block between the hands or a strap around the upper arms to help create and cultivate the necessary upper body strength.
3. Dolphin Core Work
Ummm…. are you kidding me? As if dolphin pose wasn’t enough, now we’re adding core work into it.
I know yogis, it’s quite the bitch, but it must be done.
From your dolphin pose – hug each knee to the tricep as you engage the core and round the back. Continue working your core here, switching sides, and doing as many as you can muster.
These babies are hard, go easy on yourself!
4. Shoulder Openers
While pincha mayurasana does require shoulder strength, it also requires flexibility. Which when we think about it, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, where strength exists so should flexibility.
Both postures below will help open and awaken the shoulders, plus teach relaxation during a slightly uncomfortable time. Below are my favorite tips and tricks.
*Both postures can be practiced seated or standing, you choose.
Pose 1 – Cow Face Arms
- If unable to clasp behind your back, use a strap or towel to complete the bind.
- Send the lifted elbow up and out, making sure to not collapse into the chest area.
- Breathe into the space as your shoulders awaken.
Pose 2 – Eagle Arms
- Take either full bind (as shown below) or the half bind, connecting the fronts of the hands.
- Lift the elbows in line with the shoulders and send the arm bind away from your face, creating more space in the upper back region.
- Squeeze the arms into one another to a create a deeper, more intense stretch.
5. Reverse Plank
Reverse plank is quite the doozy….like you will feel it and it will be hard to hold.
Here’s what’s happening –
- The shoulders and chest are expanding, plus the shoulders are mega strengthening.
- The backside body is working hard, while the front side is equally participating.
- The legs are incredibly active, creating a long line of energy.
- And, you’re breathing, fluidly.
A lot of what you feel in this pose will need to be replicated while upside down, specifically the mental aspect.
*If this expression is too damn much, try reverse tabletop instead and work your way up to reverse plank.
6. Half Splits
In half split pose, our goal is to open and awaken the hamstrings. This stretch might appear pointless, but in order to propel the body upside down, it’s necessary to have this hamstring opening.
I recommend holding the pose for 30 seconds on each side, plus doing it two times per side. I promise you’ll thank me later!
7. Standing Splits
Here we go, another hamstring stretcher – standing splits.
Aside from opening the hamstring, this pose teaches us how to engage the lifted leg while keeping the hips squared. These two pointers – engaging the lifted leg and squaring the hips – are important alignment cues for both forearm balance and handstand.
Please, don’t forget them!
And just like the above posture, I recommend doing it two times per side, and holding for 30 seconds at a time.
8. Bunny Hops
Yogis – we’re ready to start flying, eeeeeek!
Before you get too excited, please remember to control your movements, use a wall if possible, and practice safely – is that understood?
To start hopping like a bunny, try the below tips:
- Start in dolphin pose and extend one leg up as you bend the standing leg (as shown in the photo below).
- Gaze forward and find your point of focus.
- On an exhale breath – bend the standing leg and engage the core.
- On an inhale breath – take a small hop, using the lifted leg as your guide.
Practice bunny hopping on both sides, doing no more than ten per side, I promise that will wear your bunny butt out!
9. L-Shaped Forearm Balance
When you’re comfortable with bunny hopping and feel like the motion is under control, start to adventure into L-shaped forearm balance.
Wondering why we L-shape before the full expression?
The answer is simple – gravity.
When you’re completely straight up and down, gravity makes it a hella lot harder to stay up. So to start, I recommend splitting the legs, making it easier to balance between your two points (aka your legs).
Follow my pointers below to find that flight time:
- Start in your dolphin pose with one leg extended high.
- As you kick up – the lifted leg stays super freaking straight and the standing leg comes to parallel with the ground.
- Imagine that you’re pulling the legs apart, making as much space as possible, while still maintaining the lift in the chest.
- Release the pose with control and rest in child’s pose.
Remember – practice the pose on both sides and use a wall if wanting that extra support.
10. Pincha Mayurasana
….the full expression
You’ve made it yogis, the full expression of the posture – pincha mayurasana!
The fully straight up and down version is hard, so hard that it took me over two years to understand and do it. Don’t be discouraged by this, instead enjoy the journey, the failures, the successes, and the relationship between you + your body + your soul.
When you get up there, use these pointers to hold tight:
- Reach through the toes by fanning them out, also known as yogi toes.
- Hug the hip points up towards the heart, creating a small hollow like action, and decreasing any banana back like shape.
- Continue gazing forward, lifting away from the floor, and making space from shoulder to shoulder.
- And breatheeee.
Alright flying yogis….. are you ready to start the pincha mayurasana journey?
As I said up above, with consistent practice + patience, you’ll be upside down in no time. Remember to play safe, use a wall to start, have a partner nearby to spot, and enjoy the journey.
Until next time, xoxo.