Find Strength in Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance)

Forearm balance and handstand are in the same family of inversions but the two are quite different. You'd think that with more surface area Pincha would be easier (a relative term), but in my experience I find it much more challenging. With the elbows bent the shoulders and chest become more restricted, making proper alignment (joints stacked) harder to achieve. What tends to happen when we are new to the pose is that we over extend the lower back and hips to compensate for immobility in the upper body. In the yoga world this is sometimes referred to as "banana back". To achieve this pose without sway in the low back you first need to adequately open the chest and shoulders. From there create a rock-solid foundation and build a sturdy column of support from the forearms to the feet. Follow these steps and stop when you feel your strength waning. Pincha takes a lot of juice!

Warm up

  1. Thread the needle
  2. Cat/Cow
  3. Puppy stretch with elbows on blocks-bend elbows and bring hands to prayer at nape of neck
  4. Shalabasana with fingers interlaced, arms straight behind your back
  5. Dolphin Pose – This pose is the very best prep for Pincha Mayurasana! Make sure the elbows are right under the shoulders and keep them there by pressing firmly into the floor. Tip toe feet toward the elbow and bend the knees. With knees bent float chest toward the thighs. Still feel solid? Lift one leg and rise to the ball of the grounded foot. Keep lifted leg firm. Switch sides.

Prep for Pincha

It can be helpful and confidence building to practice this pose at the wall with a block.

  1. Set up facing the wall. Lower forearms to the floor with elbows shoulder-width apart. Fingertips are just an inch or so from the wall. Your forearms should be parallel to each other, palms facing down.
  2. Place your block flat and horizontally between the hands-allow the thumb and index finger to frame the block.
  3. Lift into dolphin pose and bring shoulders right over the elbows.
  4. Root down firmly through the forearms and hands to keep your base from crumbling. 
  5. Look at the floor in between your hands and keep breathing. We tend to hold the breath when we’re focused and unneeded tension in the body will only make this pose harder.
  6. Lift one leg into the air and find the ball of the grounded foot.
  7. Commit here but don’t be the Kool-Aid guy busting through the wall. You want to find the wall without crashing through or bouncing off of it. Bend the grounded leg to hop – keep the lifted leg solid as a rock.
  8. Try just 2-3 times to find the wall then rest. Muscling through is counter to all the work that’s led you to this point. 

Did you find the wall? Are you breathing? Read on…

  1. Push into your arms, draw your navel to your spine, and drive the feet up.
  2. Look between the hands without scrunching the neck.
  3. Breathe and stay for a few seconds so your body can learn. Lower one leg at a time – treat the exit with care.
  4. Child’s pose is your friend. Stay and drape shoulders along your sides.

Practice each step and stop when you’ve met your edge. Repeat after you’re body has recovered and see if you can move forward. Practice with patience and enjoy the journey.

shannon stephensComment