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Poses

Forearm Balance / Pincha Mayurasana

Yoga pose: Forearm Balance/Pincha Mayurasana
Step by step
  • Come to an all fours position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips
  • Place your elbows more or less where your wrists are and come down onto parallel forearms, measuring the distance between your forearms by taking hold of the elbows with the opposite hands to ensure that your arms are shoulder-width
  • Place your palms flat on the floor, and engage them by pressing down with the fingertips, hollowing out your palms slightly(hasta bandha)
  • Tuck your toes, lift your hips to the sky and come up into Dolphin pose, or a modified version of downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) on your forearms
  • Press into your forearms, firm your shoulder blades and bring them down your back
  • Externally rotate your upper arms (outwards) and without moving your forearms, sense that you’re actively drawing them in
  • Step one foot in closer to the middle of your mat - keep the knee bent
  • On an exhalation, press into the foot of the bent leg to lift your other extended leg
  • Start with some small hops to practise feeling the weight in your upper body
  • When you become stronger and your body becomes used to the feeling of being in the first stage of the pose, press into the foot of your bent leg with a little more energy to lift your extended leg completely
  • Eventually, you will kick both legs up straight
  • Once up in the pose, keep pressing into the forearms and palms, knit your front ribs in, focus on your core by drawing your navel towards your spine, and lengthen your tailbone towards your heels
  • Maintain energy in the legs by internally rotating your inner thighs and lengthening out through your heels or the balls of your feet
  • To come out of the pose, lower one foot, followed by the other back into Dolphin pose, bend your knees, and rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose) for a few breaths before coming up.
Beginners' tips
  • Take time to build up strength in your shoulders and core, and to cultivate awareness of the position of your shoulders, elbows, rib cage and tailbone - practising holding Dolphin pose for up to 20 breaths is a good shoulder and core strengthener
  • Be patient and master each step before moving on
  • It is possible to use a wall as a way to build up confidence in the pose, however if you are able to practise this pose without it, it allows you to get used to it without relying on the wall so much, which can become a psychological prop - when using the wall it is very tempting to kick up very strongly and use the wall to stop the momentum of your legs - even when using the wall, try to maintain lightness, ease and control when kicking up
Benefits
  • Strengthens the shoulders, arms and core
  • Creates expansion across the throat and chest
  • Good balancing practice
  • Draws fresh blood into the upper body while stimulating drainage and circulation to the legs
  • Energises mind and body
Watch out for
  • Elbows can splay out - be mindful of setting the position of your elbows under your shoulders before attempting to kick up - maintain the strength and integrity of your foundation by pressing firmly into the forearms and firming the shoulders blades on your back.
  • Keep looking between or slightly in front of your hands - do not attempt to release your head down to the floor - the head stays off the floor in this pose
  • Remember to alternate the leg you raise first as we always have one side that feels stronger and more comfortable than the other - using both legs ensures balance is maintained in the body.
  • If you have high blood pressure or glaucoma, inversions (where the head is lower than the heart) are not recommended. 
  • There is debate over whether practising inversions while menstruating is safe for women. However, the evidence is not clear on either side (indeed it would be very difficult to research). Legs up the wall pose is a good alternative which still provides many benefits that inversions offer.
Variations

Not everyone has a bone structure that comfortably allows them to press their wrists and palms into the floor - if you feel uncomfortable, you have the option to make fists with your palms and press more into the sides of your forearms

You can also do a half variation of this pose using the wall:

  • Sit in Dandasana with your feet flexed and against the wall
  • Place your hands either side of your hips, towards the line of your sitting bones
  • Keep one hand down as your turn to come to your all fours position, placing your elbows more or less where your palms were
  • Follow the same set-up as outlined above and come up into Dolphin Pose, with your heels resting against the wall
  • Start to walk up the wall with your feet
  • Place both feet flat into the wall, hips’ height
  • Start to straighten your knees so that you come into a 90 degree angle with your legs parallel to the floor, shoulders over wrists and torso perpendicular to your legs
  • You may now start to experiment lifting one leg and then the other, or alternating between the two until you feel comfortable enough to come into the full pose
  • To come out of the pose, slowly walk your feet down the wall back into your Dolphin Pose, bend your knees and rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose) for a few breaths
Complementary poses
Try it in class

Journey towards Pincha

Andrew Wrenn forearm balance yoga class

Teacher: Andrew Wrenn
Level: 2, 3
Style: Hatha
Duration: 37 mins

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