HOW TO PRACTICE Forearm Balance Pose IN YOGA (Pincha Mayurasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Forearm Balance Pose
Forearm Balance Pose (Sanskrit name Pincha Mayurasana, or just Pincha for short) is one of those awe-inspiring acrobatic yoga poses that can look intimidating to many practitioners. Forearm Balance (or Peacock Pose colloquially) challenges full-body strength (especially in the shoulders and core), shoulder flexibility, balance and, maybe most importantly, focus and determination.
For those with tight or unstable shoulders, this yoga posture may take years of focused practice to find a sufficient level of comfort. Core stability is also key here, as there’s a strong tendency to assume a “banana” shape in this asana—where the entire body curves like the slippery-skinned fruit.
This yoga pose requires a solid foundation and alignment is critical to protect the shoulder girdle in this posture. To learn the finer points of transitioning yourself into a splendid peacock, it’s best to work with an experienced teacher before attempting the version pictured here. In the meantime, you’ll find ways to strengthen and prepare your body for this challenging and exhilarating yoga pose in the Yoga 2.0 section.
Benefits of Forearm Balance Pose
Forearm Balance Pose strengthens and stretches the shoulders simultaneously, all while engaging the core muscles, the entire back body (especially the upper back), the inner thighs, and hamstrings. Pincha Mayurasana works the entire body from top to bottom and is an awesome peak pose that challenges yoga students of all levels. Pincha Mayurasana stimulates energy and focus in the mind and body. Since this yoga pose is an inversion, Forearm Balance can both calm and energize the mind.
For some yoga practitioners, Forearm Balance can be a bridge to practicing Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand Pose). In Pincha Mayurasana, the head is off the floor, but not so high off the floor as to feel precarious. So many practitioners find this yoga posture to be much more accessible—and much less intimidating—than Handstand. One of Handstand’s major challenges, keeping the elbows straight so that you don’t end up collapsing onto your head, is eliminated in Forearm Balance. Practicing Peacock Pose can help you build the strength and confidence to begin exploring Handstand Pose.
All that said, Forearm Balance is still a formidable challenge for most yogis. Acquiring this yoga pose can mean months, or maybe years, of preparation and foundation building, so patience is key. Be sure to remember yoga’s ethical principle of Ahimsa, non-harm. Allow your body the time it needs to build the strength, endurance, balance, and confidence this asana requires. And remember that working on the elements of the yoga pose will net the same benefits as the pose itself.
Basic Forearm Balance Pose
Whether you are new to the Forearm Balance Pose or have practiced it many times, make sure you are amply warmed up in the shoulders and upper back, and have practiced Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose) several times in preparation. Also, if you are new to the yoga pose or are unsure of your ability to balance, plan to work with a wall so you have support.
- Start in Dolphin Pose, with your forearms parallel and your elbows shoulders-width apart, with your fingers near the baseboard of a wall. Note: You may want to try practicing with a yoga block, laid flat on its lowest height and widthwise between your hands, to start.
- Make sure your shoulders are over your elbows, and forearms are parallel. Press down with the forearms to lift up out of the shoulders, so that your shoulders don’t hunch up around your ears.
- From Dolphin Pose, raise one leg off the ground. Take a few breaths here, lengthening the lifted leg up toward the ceiling. Lower the leg, reset your Dolphin Pose, and then lift the other leg, taking a few breaths as you stretch your leg up toward the ceiling. Then release the leg.
- Bend both knees, lowering them to the floor into a modified Bharmanasana (Tabletop Pose) with your elbows bent and forearms parallel.
- Stretch your hips back to your heels and rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose). When you are ready, come back into Dolphin Pose at the wall.
- Step the left leg forward closer toward your face and bend the knee.
- Reach the opposite leg up toward the ceiling.
- With control, press into your left foot and take a little hop, kicking first the right leg, then the left leg, up toward the ceiling. Come to rest with both legs on the wall behind you.
- Draw your belly button inward, toward your spine, and lengthen your low back. Extend your tailbone up toward your heels.
- Try bringing one leg and then the other off the wall to test your balance.
- If you feel stable, try bringing both legs off the wall, keeping your inner thighs engaged firmly by pressing them together.
- Take several breaths in Pincha Mayurasana before bringing one leg and then the other down to the yoga mat again.
- If you feel strong and want to try again, practice Forearm Balance a second or third time.
- Make sure to go through all the steps carefully if you repeat the yoga pose. Establish a firm foundation in your forearms, upper arms and shoulders before repeating the asana. (It’s common to “rush” through the foundational steps when you repeat an inversion, but remember, a strong foundation is important every single time you practice Forearm Balance.)