Feathered Peacock Pose | Forearm Balance: The Complete Guide
Pincha Mayurasana tones your arms and shoulders, and is a good pose to balance in before practicing an unsupported Handstand.
Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose) is a great pose to work into your rotation of inversions. Also known as Forearm Balance Pose, Feathered Peacock can quite literally change your perspective.
For a strong base in Pincha Mayurasana, your shoulders and wrists must be strong and flexible. When your legs are lifted, keep your ribs drawn in, your tailbone lengthened toward your heels, and your navel pulled toward your spine. Once you’ve coordinated these movements, relax your head and let your stress melt away as you feel a wonderful stretch in your shoulders, neck, chest, and belly.
In Hindu mythology, peacock feathers are an auspicious symbol of good luck and prosperity. The mayura, or peacock, is said to have been created from a feather of Garuda, a magical bird that carried Vishnu. The deity Krishna carries a peacock feather in his crown and Kartikeya, the god of war, uses a peacock clutching a snake as his vehicle. In this sense, the peacock represents the destruction of harmful habits.
Practice Pincha Mayurasana to fine-tune your alignment and maybe even break some of your own bad habits along the way. Your confidence and patience will grow as you become stronger.Section divider
Feathered Peacock Pose basics
Sanskrit: Pincha Mayurasana (pin-cha my-your-AHS-anna)
pinca = feather
mayura = peacock
Other name: Forearm balance
Pose type: Inversion
Targets: Full bodySection divider
Feathered Peacock Pose (Forearm Balance) improves body awareness, circulation (both lymphatic and venous), and your posture.
Other Feathered Peacock Pose perks:
- Boosts energy and fights fatigue
- Builds confidence
- Strengthens your core, back, chest, arms, shoulders, thighs, and buttocks (glutes)
Feathered Peacock Pose: Step-by-step instructions
- Begin in Tabletop. Bring your forearms to the floor, shoulder-distance apart.
- Take your gaze down and slightly forward and move your shoulders back and up. On an inhalation, lift your hips; on an exhalation, step one foot about 1/3 of the way to your hands.
- At the end of your next exhalation, engage your core and push off your forward foot. Once both feet are up, flex your ankles.
- Turn your inner thighs forward and extend fully from your core through your heels. The more you extend, the lighter you’ll feel. Press into the back of your heart with the bottom tips of your shoulder blades as you exhale and reach up.
- To exit the pose, come down one foot at a time. Counter with Child’s Pose.
Explore the pose
Start facing the wall so it is there to catch you should you kick up too forcefully. (See variations below.) Gradually you will learn how much or how little force you need to find your balance when you kick up. The stronger and more connected you are in your own center, the less force you will need to go upside down.
Rather than placing the palms flat on the floor, you can make the pose slightly easier by pressing your palms flat on the ends of a block, so your wrists are perpendicular to the floor, curling your fingers around the block and touching them to the wall. Press your inner wrists actively toward the floor.Section divider
Feathered Peacock Pose variations
To help build up strength and stamina for Feathered Peacock, practice Dolphin Pose. On your hands and knees, bring your forearms to the ground with your fingers optionally interlaced. Lift your hips up and back. Relax your head and neck as you press your forearms into the floor. Stay for several breaths. Your heels may or may not reach the floor.
Half Feathered Peacock Pose against a wall
It may not be possible for you to perform the full pose right away. Instead, you can perform its halfway variation, Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (ardha = half), which will help you build strength and confidence for the full pose.
Sit on the floor with your legs fully extended and your feet against the wall. Make an imaginary mark on the floor beside your hips. Turn around and face the wall, kneel down, and place your elbows on the mark. Then set yourself up for the pose as described in the step-by-step instructions above. Step one foot high up onto the wall, then bring the other one.
Walk your feet slowly down the wall, until your legs are parallel to the floor and your torso perpendicular. Press the heels firmly into the wall by lifting the tops of the thighs and tailbone toward the ceiling. Stay for gradually increasing lengths of time, starting with about 15 seconds and working toward 1–2 minutes.
Forearm Balance on a wall
Measure how far away from the wall to be by sitting in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your feet against the wall. Then, turn around and put your forearms on the floor where your hips were. Start with your feet on the floor and your heels on the wall, lifting your hips up. Then, slowly walk your feet up the wall. Press firmly into your forearms against the floor. Stay for several breaths, then slowly come out of the pose by stepping down and making your way to your hands and knees.Section divider
Preparatory and counter poses
You will need to strongly engage the shoulders and core, so you want to practice poses that have the same demand as Forearm Balance before moving into it. Afterward, come to a passive pose that will stretch your entire back body.
Counter posesSection divider
Your body in Feathered Peacock Pose | Anatomy
Pincha Mayurasana is a balancing pose in which your body forms the slight arch of a feather, explains Ray Long, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and yoga instructor. The weight of your body is spread across your forearms and into your palms. The pose shares the same benefits as Handstand, with the additional advantage of an unusual shoulder stretch
Proper alignment of the shoulders and hips leads to a feeling of lightness and ease in the pose. The deep and superficial shoulder muscles are strengthened as one balances and aligns the shoulder and hip girdles.
In the drawings below, pink muscles are stretching and blue muscles are contracting. The shade of the color represents the force of the stretch and the force of contraction. Darker = stronger.
Activate the quadriceps to straighten your knees. The tensor fascia lata synergizes the quadriceps in this action and internally rotates the thighs to a neutral position so that the kneecaps face forward. As you dorsiflex your feet, you activate the tibialis anterior at the fronts of the lower legs. Evert your ankles using the peroneus longus and brevis to open the soles.
When coming into the pose, you use your shoulders to lift the body. In the final pose, however, you do not want to shrug your shoulders up against your neck. To avoid this, contract the lower trapezius and draw the scapulae away from your neck and ears. Attempt to draw the shoulder blades to the midline by engaging the rhomboids, and then expand the chest outward by contracting the serratus anterior.
Activate the psoas and its synergists, the pectineus and adductors longus and brevis, to stabilize your pelvis. Squeezing your knees together is a cue for this action. These muscles prevent your torso and legs from swaying back over your arms. Engage the abdominals to stabilize your pelvis and protect the lumbar spine.Section divider
Put Feathered Peacock Pose into practice
About our contributors
Teacher and model Natasha Rizopoulos is a senior teacher at Down Under Yoga in Boston, where she offers classes and leads 200- and 300-hour teacher trainings. A dedicated Ashtanga practitioner for many years, she became equally as captivated by the precision of the Iyengar system. These two traditions inform her teaching and her dynamic, anatomy-based vinyasa system Align Your Flow. For more information, visit natasharizopoulos.com.
Ray Long is an orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a popular series of yoga anatomy books, and the Daily Bandha, which provides tips and techniques for teaching and practicing safe alignment. Ray graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and pursued post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, the University of Montreal, and the Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over 20 years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters, and teaches anatomy workshops at yoga studios around the country.