Finding a sense of balance often means tapping into our deeper selves and beginning to move from our true center. Few poses in our asana practice illustrate this idea better than Mayurasana, Peacock Pose.
Initially, Mayurasana seems like a feat of impossible strength, after all, we are essentially creating a flying plank pose with just our hands and arms as the foundation. It only takes a couple of attempts though to realize it is much more. This pose requires patience, perseverance, an ability to soften, a willingness to fall, and a sense of humor.
As with most things in life, if we try to muscle our way in, use brut strength and push ourselves too far – we wind up flat on our faces! Mayurasana teaches us to soften our bellies so we might access our deeper core muscles, and to leverage our upper and lower bodies against gravity using finess rather than force.
Once we transfer our focus to our true center, energy can radiate differently. In addition to the balance we learn to strike between strength and grace, Mayurasana shifts the attention of our breath from the front line of our bodies to the back lines. We are suddenly very aware that the compression of our upper arms into our bellies and diaphragm, requires us to shift our breaths focus to the back sides of our lungs. We learn that we are capable of expanding the backs of our rib cages and can tap into using the full capacity of our lungs.
What needs to be open?
Shoulders, wrist and mind!
What needs to be strengthened or active?
Legs, glutes, arms, deeper core muscles, sense of humor!
Some Helpful Prep poses:
Plank, Chaturanga – mid pushup, shoulder openers ie Eagle – Garudasana, wrist openers, Firefly – Titibasana, Rabbit – Sasangasana, Double Wind Removing Pose – Pavanamuktasana
Hamsasana – Dove Pose : fingers pointing forward
Padma Mayurasana – Peacock Pose with Lotus Legs
Uttana Padma Mayurasana – Intense Stretch Lotus Peacock Pose: essentially shoulder stand with lotus legs
Pincha Mayurasana – Forearm Stand
1. come to hands and knees
2. reverse fingers so they point towards knees
3. open wrists by finding subtle movement back and forth
4. bend elbows and work to the soft part of the belly below the navel
5. relax the superficial belly muscles and soften them around the bent elbows (elbows will slide off against overly engaged abdominal muscles and can cause more discomfort)
6. option to press the big toes together as leverage and tilt forward (knees may still be down)
7. lengthen legs out into a plank pose (toes still on ground)
8. stay here and breathe
9. continue to tilt into upper body, activating leg and glute muscles, breathing steadily, try to work weight forward until toes leave the earth (play with placing forehead on the ground and finding a teeter-totter effect, this can help find your center of gravity)
10. another option is to enter through low lunge (as you might when flowing postures) – in low lunge, reverse the wrists and bend the elbows toward belly, activate both legs engaging inner thigh muscles and pelvic floor, lean into elbows and step the forward leg back – this controlled momentum can help move the energy forward (similar to entering Koundinyasana or Hurdlers Pose from a 3-legged Down Dog in a flow)
Cultivate your sense of play! Remember to have patience!