Today I’m looking at Vanessa’s Forearm Balance / Pincha Mayurasana.
I believe this can be helpful, because usually if one person struggles with something, others probably will too. So we can hopefully all learn something from this…
This was the question I received from Vanessa under one of my classes:
“Although I have plenty of strength in Crow pose and other arm balances, I have a lot of trouble with forearm balances. I cannot lift into or hold headstand at all with forearms on the mat. I definitely feel I have a mental blockage, but I just feel very physically weak in any forearm balance”.
I asked Vanessa to send me some pictures of her in Dolphin Pose, and also walking towards a Headstand with her forearms down.
Alignment advice for Vanessa
From these pictures, I can see that Vanessa needs to engage her upper back more, if possible. By drawing the shoulders further along her back, the upper back should become straighter and the chest will open more.
She might need to bend her knees and lift her hips up and back, to make that happen. Watch out for the tendency to collapse in the upper back when doing this. Keep your shoulders engaged and pushing towards your thighs.
Create a strong frame
When there is more openness in the chest and the shoulders are placed more securely on the back, more muscles are engaged. This creates a stronger frame, helping her up in the eventual Forearm Balance pose.
Forearm balances versus hand balances
When you have your hands on the floor like in Downward Facing Dog instead of resting on your forearms like in Dolphin Pose, it’s easier to secure the shoulders on the upper back. This could explain why it is easier for Vanessa to do other arm balances like Crow Pose.
Becoming lighter in the pose – balancing strength and flexibility
Strength:For Vanessa to become lighter in the pose and to stop feeling the weakness she experiences, I would suggest that she practices Forearm plank every day for a while. Building up to holding this pose for one minute at a time three times in a row. Once that is easy then she can work on holding Forearm Side Plank for one minute at a time. The focus during these poses is to draw the shoulders down and on the back, and of course, lift the belly in and up.
It is very likely that as soon as she feels strong in Forearm Plank and can hold both Forearm Plank and Forearm Side Plank for 1 minute each, she will feel light in Dolphin Pose, which is the preparation for Forearm Balance. She might then feel more ready to come up. The same applies to Headstand with the forearms down.
Flexibility:When Vanessa gains more flexibility in her upper back, she will also find it easier to get into this pose. One way of doing this is to properly warm up the upper back before attempting Dolphin and Forearm Balance. And of course, working on her overall upper back flexibility in her regular yoga practice will help too.
Try it in class!
Top tips for coming up into Hand and Forearm stand and refining skills within them with Katy Appleton – Level 1/2.