How to nail that Pincha Mayurasana

If you’re still thinking of pincha mayurasana as a nemesis, look no further as this post helps you to befriend this move with detailed breakdown and conditioning exercises to let us nail that move!

Pincha Mayurasana

Breaking down the move (Anatomy movements and muscles involved)

In pincha mayurasana (or forearm stand), the arms are flexed at the shoulder joint (ideally at 180deg, we’ll talk more about this later) and also 90deg flexed at the elbow joint; the shoulders are externally rotated. Keep pelvis posteriorly tilted to maintain a straight back.

In this pose, rotator cuff muscles are engaged to externally rotate the shoulder and stabilize it (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor). Deltoids and pectoralis major/minor are engaged to flex the shoulders. The abdominal muscles are engaged to prevent a unwanted backbend. For the legs, adductors are engaged to keep the legs together for a better control and quadriceps to keep the legs straight.

 

Getting there

Since this pose engages a lot of muscles, a lot of exercises will help in a way or another. That said, I would like to bring the focus to our shoulders that is the key in this pose. There are 2 aspects that I’ll be focusing on in this post.

Shoulder opening exercises

Mentioned earlier on, the arms are flexed at the shoulder joint ideally at an 180deg angle as this would decrease the load on the shoulders and will require less strength in the pose. It is not impossible to do with <180deg angle, but it becomes closer to a planche position which makes it extremely heavy (why make life harder than it already is?). This is also the same for handstand! After understanding the theory, we need to make sure we can execute it practically. With that, let’s dive right into the exercises!

180deg angle at the shoulder
  1. Extended puppy pose (Uttana Shishosana)

With arms extended in front, bring the chin to the floor and think of getting the chest down the floor.

Extended puppy pose

For a more intense stretch, you can place your hands on a yoga block for more room to open up your shoulders.

Elevate your arms up in puppy pose for a more intense stretch

2. Cow face pose (Gomukasana)

Another great shoulder opening exercise, remember to keep the chin up in this pose and think of opening up the chest. If you’re not able to grab your hands, use a towel and slowly work towards finding your other hand!

 

Strengthening exercises

As much as flexibility in the shoulders can help lessen the load, we still need basic strength to hold us in the pose. Introducing some shoulder and core strengthening exercises that you can add into your usual conditioning routine.

a. Dolphin pose is amazing to help get that pincha mayurasana, with the similar arm position as in pincha, it’s a good pose to help get use to the position, open up the shoulders and strengthen the muscles.

Dolphin pose

If dolphin pose is not yet achievable, there are variations to be done. Hold an elbow plank, it’s still a good exercise to help strengthen both the shoulders and the core.

b. If you’re comfortable in dolphin pose, bring it to the next level by lowering into elbow plank from dolphin and then pushing back up again to dolphin. In the elbow plank position, try to think of chin to floor. Make a conscious effort to keep the elbows in and try to resist the hands from closing in to each other, use a block if necessary.

Lowering down from dolphin to elbow plank

Even if pincha mayurasana is not in your plan, these stretching and conditioning exercises are still good to add into your regular routine.

So where are you on this journey? Let’s keep practicing and work towards perfecting this asana!