Kathryn Budig walks you through how to work without a wall with a partner to get comfortable practicing Forearm Stand in the middle of the room.
Pincha Mayurasana is a love-hate posture for many yogis. It’s a magical inversion that takes ample practice to understand (and often to enjoy). It requires a beautiful blend of shoulder strength, stability, and flexibility. Here are a few steps for helping a partner build their wings for the middle of the room.
READ MORE Challenge Pose: Pincha Mayurasana
Image courtesy of Under Armour Women
STEP 1: Find a suitable partner.
Working in the middle of the room should be done under the observation of a qualified teacher or with a partner who also has a dedicated practice. Please use caution.
STEP 2: Determine what props are needed.
Have your partner come into Dolphin Pose. If they tend to splay their elbows or cross their hands, I highly recommend strapping their arms and placing a block between their hands.
How to use a block and a strap in Pincha Mayurasana
Take a yoga strap and make a lasso the width of one shoulder head (where the bone goes into the socket) to the other—that is, slightly more narrow than shoulder-width apart. Slip the strap over the arms so it rests directly above the elbows on the upper arm. If you’re using the block, place it on its wide and low level in between the framework of the thumbs and index fingers. This prevents the hands from crossing and the internal rotation of the arms we try to avoid in the pose.
STEP 3: Learn to lose the wall.
Let your partner get a feel for middle-of-the-room balance.
Once your partner has a solid base, stand to the side of their Dolphin with your arm extended straight (you’re placing it where the wall would be). Have your partner practice light hops up into the pose. Your goal is to not touch them unless they start to go over. That being said, stay on them! Don’t let them kick over so much that they collapse in their lower back or worse—freak out. Kicking up this way helps a yoga student understand what it’s like to come up into balance without touching a wall before drawing back in. This helps you develop what I call your “catching” muscles, the ones you need to pull back in when you’ve kicked too far. Have your partner practice this with both sides.
STEP 4: Give each other a boost.
This method is for yoga students struggling with kicking up into the pose.
Stand behind your partner as they prep their body in Dolphin and lift their dominant leg. Ask them to flex their lifted foot. Take your palm to the lifted shinbone and as them drive it into your hand as if they wanted to kick their toes back down to the ground. This opposing action will naturally lift the base foot up. Continue to hold onto their lifted leg as the second one lifts. Grab hold of both, guiding their hips up over their shoulders. Here, you’ll stand beside and behind them. Ask your partner to flex their feet as you place one palm onto their heels. Tell them to push you away to elongate their spine and root into their elbows at the same time to encourage even more length. You can also gently use you knee to encourage your partner’s ribs in, This aids in taking the pitch out of their lower back. When you’re ready to release your partner, take one hand to their hip flexor and guide that same leg back down to the ground. Voila! Now switch it up and try it yourself.