Pincha Mayurasana or forearm balance is one of the many poses that people stare at in awe and bewilderment. It’s a posture that many yogis look up to, wonder if they’ll ever achieve it, and let fear or false beliefs get in the way.
Don’t let this be you.
That just sounded like an anti-drug commercial, but in all seriousness, don’t let fear stand in the way of trying anything! Our bodies are highly capable of change and adapting, it’s our silly monkey minds that stand in the way.
I remember my first encounter with someone in pincha mayurasana and these were my thoughts: How the hell is that person upside down. How are they balancing only on their forearms. And how are they not falling over.
Forearm balance seemed light years away from my current practice and far out of reach. Nevertheless – I pursued the posture every time a teacher offered it, practiced it at home, and eventually my body understood the pose.
Pattabhi Jois was onto something when he stated the famous words, “Practice and all is coming.”
Below is a step-by-step tutorial to help train your mind & body to practice this posture. With patience and persistence, you too will be flying soon.
1. Downward Facing Dog
What to do:
- Bring the hands in front of the body and shoulder width apart.
- Spread the fingers wide and plant the palms down into the ground – use all four corners of the hand here.
- Send the hips high and melt the chest down towards the legs – gaze is at the back toes or up towards the bellybutton.
- Externally rotate the biceps out, plug the upper arm bones into their sockets, and shoulder blades roll down onto the back.
- Cinch the ribs in like you have a corset on and suck bellybutton up and in.
Downward facing dog has a lot of components to it – slowly incorporate each one starting from the fingertips and working towards the feet. This pose is the foundation for all inversions as it builds strength throughout the entire arms, shoulder girdle, and the core center.
Practice holding this posture and tweaking the alignment until the body memorizes the movement.
2. Dolphin Pose
What to do:
- From downward facing dog, bring the forearms down to the ground – as seen in the photo above.
- Walk the feet towards the body and work to stack the hips over the shoulders. In most cases, stacking hips will be very difficult as it requires major strength in the shoulder girdle. Take your time here!
- As you walk the feet closer to the body, suck belly up and in.
- Keep externally rotating the biceps out while you suck elbows and upper arms in towards one another.
- Stay here for 10 breaths. You’ll quickly begin to feel how powerful this posture is!
3. Dolphin Pose + props
If the arms and shoulders aren’t strong enough yet to sustain this posture, incorporate a few props – block and/or strap. Both the strap and block will help to suck the elbows and upper arms in. There’s no shame in adding props to your practice – they’re incredibly helpful!
What to do:
- Do everything as mentioned above regarding alignment.
- Create a circle with the strap and bring it around the upper arms, about halfway up. The strap should be tight enough for the arms to push into it.
- Bring the block in between the hands as shown above – thumb and pointer finger will frame the block.
- Stay here for 10 breaths or more.
4. Dolphin Pose + Standing Split
What to do:
- From dolphin pose, extend one leg straight up to the sky. The lifted leg & foot should be active, muscles engaged, with the toes flexing, pointing, or flointing (flexing + pointing).
- Practice bunny hopping here – bend the leg still on the ground and hop up. It’s super important to keep the lifted leg active while hopping to maintain control, balance, and engagement.
At this point, feel free to take your pincha mayurasana against the wall to practice. Once you’ve mastered the wall, move to the middle of the room.
You got this!
5. Pincha Mayurasana – full expression
What to do:
- Come away from the wall and into the middle of the room and prepare to fly!
- Use all of the tools we practiced above to achieve your fullest expression of the pose.
- Gaze forward as you kick up, bring both legs together and squeeze them into another, active the feet here, bring low ribs in and bellybutton back towards the spine, then BREATHE!
*If bringing both legs together is causing a banana back, kick up and create an L shape with the legs. Once the body understands the posture more, then bring both legs together overhead.
Arm balances are tricky business and require lots of practice and dedication. Don’t chase the posture or a shape, this will lead to disappointment and often injury.
Instead – focus on each moment, step, and pose leading up to the full expression. As always friends, it’s about the journey not the destination.
Until next time – xoxo.
Hey! I’m Allie.
I’m a self-growth student, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher and the founder of a tight-knit online yoga community: the Body Mind Soul Studio. I’m here to teach you how to transform your life on-and-off-the-mat with a holistic yoga practice.
I wanna learn it all!
The Yoga Reset Guide is my FREE 7-step journey to deepen your practice and recenter your body, mind and soul. Self-paced, no equipment necessary, perfect for beginners AND veteran yogis.