Pincha Mayuarasana (a.k.a. Feathered peacock pose) is no doubt the No.1 pose whenever people ask about my favourite yoga pose. It takes total body awareness and took me the longest time to figure out how to engage my shoulder, my core, and my legs in the pose. This pose gave me so many ups and downs and it feels like such a victory finally make it mine. Other than the “emotional benefit” that Pincha offers, following are some physical benefit provided:
- Strengthening shoulders, arms and upper back;
- Stretches the shoulders and neck;
- Improve total body awareness and sense of balance;
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress.
To get into Pincha, shoulder strength and core strength are necessary. My tips for building shoulder strength is to make sure integrity in the Chaturanga. It is the most fundamental pose in all yoga practice, but often neglected as people are too rush into other poses during the Vinyasa class and don’t pay enough attention to the alignment. Other than the arm and shoulder, a relatively flexible hamstring is required to get into the pose, unless you wish to jump to the pose for the rest of your life. Following are some preparation poses for Pincha:
Shoulder strength: Chaturanga, yoga push up.
Shoulder opening: Puppy pose, dolphin pose.
Hamstring stretch: Forward fold (standing and seated), prasarita padottanasana, hanumanasana.
Core activation: Navasana, plank and forearm plank.
Move into the pose:
If you are new to Pincha, start with the practice against wall.
- Come into dolphin pose. Arms are shoulder width apart and parallel to each other. Spread your palms firmly onto the mat and slightly pointing inwards. Firm your shoulder blades against your back torso.
- Now bend one knee and step one foot in and closer to the wall. Keep the other leg active. Start practicing hopping up with one leg. Keep looking in between your palms. Kick the upper leg so the foot on the ground lifted off the floor. If you managed to kick up, immediately pushing through the heel to straighten the leg. Hop up and down like this several times. Initially when you are trying to kick up, you might land on the wall very heavily. Keep practicing the preparation poses stated above and eventually you’ll be able to swing your heels up against wall lightly.
- When you are upside down, activate the core so that you can draw your front ribs into your torso, and reach your tailbone toward your heels. Draw the navel toward the spine. Squeeze the outer legs together and roll the thighs in. Keep your head off the floor. In the beginning, try to hold in the pose for 10 to 15 seconds. Gradually work your way up to 1 minute. Alternate the kicking legs, otherwise, it increase the chance of injuring your knees.
- Once you feel comfortable holding pincha against wall. Try to stack the legs on top of your hips by engaging your core and press actively onto the mat (with forearm and palms). Once you find that balance to let go of the wall, make sure to find shoulder stability. Hold for a good 5 breath in the beginning and gradually working towards 1 minute.
- Exit the pose with one leg down first and lightly touch the ground.
My struggle with this pose is due my super bendy back. To overcome this, I make sure that both of my legs are supper engaged when I’m upside down. Always engage the core and not sinking of the shoulders. It took me about 4 months to finally find balance after thousands of kick up.
May your Pincha will come!