By Yoga Journal
Use this step-by-step guide to build the physical, emotional, and spiritual fortitude you need to master Pincha Mayurasana -- and your own internal journey.
This time of year inspires everyone with the promise of a fresh start. Too often, though, people set their sights on monumental change only to give up when it isn't evident within a few days of effort. I, for one, have reinvented myself more times that I can remember. I've changed city, apartment, boyfriend, country, and culture all in search of a peaceful inner geography. I've been an academic, a party girl, a hippie, an intern, a "yogi," a raw vegan, and now after many years of searching, finally, just myself. What got me there was beginning to understand that yoga is a lifelong path of discipline and devotion and beginning to understand the kind of strength it takes to let go of the ego and drop down into the Self.
Challenging inversions like Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance) helped me find my inner strength. The journey wasn't easy. It took me nearly two years to find balance in this posture -- and I wanted to give up many times. I won't offer any quick fixes here. What I will offer is a slow, steady path to the discovery of your true Self through the vehicle of the asana. Taking time to build strength step by step develops the physical, emotional, and spiritual fortitude you need to master both the posture and the inner journey. Deep within you is eternal peace, a personal sanctuary, a place where no matter how hectic life gets on the surface, stillness remains. Take time each day to go there and discover that steady oasis of tranquility. Yoga is not an escape but a radical acceptance of all that is. Build the strength this year to love yourself more every day.
1. Dolphin Plank
Place your forearms on the ground, aligning your elbows and hands shoulder-width apart. Protract your shoulders, spreading the scapulas away from each other. Draw your lower ribs in and tighten your abs and core. Activate the quadriceps and inner thighs and reach the tailbone toward your heels. Stay here for five breaths. Avoid collapsing down into your shoulders or planting your face on the ground.
2. Dolphin Pose
Starting off in Dolphin Plank walk your feet in as far you can, ideally stopping only once the hips are stacked over the shoulders. Activate your core and stabilize your shoulder girdle. Gaze toward the floor between your forearms. Stay for five breaths. Avoid collapsing into the shoulders or sinking your head toward the ground.
3. Bent-Knee Dolphin Pose
Starting off in Dolphin Pose bend your right knee in toward the chest while pointing the foot up toward the pelvis. Lean your shoulders slightly forward and tighten your core to bring the knee down into the armpit. Avoid collapsing into your shoulders or dumping the weight of the leg into the forearm. Stay for five breaths.
4. Baby Crow Pose
Beginning in Dolphin Pose, gently bend your knees in to your armpits. Activate your core, spread your shoulder blades, and then gently lean forward just enough to lift your feet off the ground. Keep the elbows tracking in line with the shoulders. Avoid collapsing your shoulders forward or dumping weight into your arms. Keep lifting the body. Stay for five breaths.
5. Split-Leg Forearm Balance
Pincha Mayurasana, Variation
Beginning in Dolphin Pose, lift your left leg up while pointing the left toes. Without overextending your back or collapsing into your shoulders, activate your core, lean slightly forward and prepare. If you feel unstable, stay here for five breaths. If you are ready to proceed, lift or jump up, keeping the legs apart and come into a split-leg Forearm Balance. With the legs open, extend your spine, keeping the shoulders stable and spreading. Stay for five breaths.
6. Half Forearm Balance
Ardha Pincha Mayurasana
After you have mastered the split-leg version of the pose, you are ready to try bringing both legs together. Beginning in Dolphin Pose, bring both knees into your chest. Stabilize the shoulder girdle and keep the legs bent to ensure you activate your core and prevent you from toppling over. Stay for five breaths.
7. Feathered Peacock Pose
You can enter Pincha Mayurasana from either the split-leg or bent-knee positions. The goal is to orient toward the centerline and find the vertical axis in the posture. Bring your legs towards the centerline, spread the shoulders, engage the core, firm the thighs, and point your toes. Draw your body in to the center to find a straight line through its center channel. Keep your elbows and shoulders in alignment to avoid spreading your elbows out to the sides. Keep lifting up to avoid collapsing into the lower back. If you spend ample time in the preparatory postures with conscious awareness of alignment, it will be easier to maintain good form in the final pose. Stay for five breaths after finding balance.
About Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor is a self-professed Handstand lover (just check out her Instagrams). She's also a Pattabhi Jois-certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher who travels worldwide, author of three books, featured in six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs and a Cody App video series, and co-founder of Miami Life Center, where she and her husband Tim Feldmann are based.