Are you Harry Potter astride your flying broomstick in pursuit of the golden snitch in the Quidditch games? No, you’re a peacock, flying fast, like a stick with its own volition, barreling headfirst through space in defiance of gravity. And instead of being in the magical land of Hogwarts, you are flying high on your yoga mat. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But, oh! The desire to fly!
In yoga practice, mayurasana not only resembles the peacock, it also invokes the peacock’s special powers. To balance its long neck and extravagant tail feathers, which are carried straight out behind it both in flight and on the ground (unless it’s fanning them for a mating ritual), the peacock’s stout legs are situated at the center of its torso, exactly where we place our arms and hands at the navel center to become the “feet” of mayurasana.
Mayurasana, the peacock yoga pose, can be done instead of the crow as the tenth posture in the sequence of 12 basic postures of hatha yoga. The peacock is a balancing pose, it requires strong arm and upper body muscles, flexible wrists, and excellent balance. Before you attempt the peacock, improve these attributes by perfecting the Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) and Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana). The Locust Pose (Salabhasana) and Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) are also helpful. Even the resting Child’s Pose (Balasana) can help stretch out your back, especially if you roll up part of your yoga mat and place it in front of your hips.
Benefits of Peacock Pose
The Peacock Pose is a very challenging arm balance that effectively tones the abdominals, improves digestion and strengthens the arms, wrists, forearms and back. It is an effective detox pose. In the final position, your body is held straight and parallel to the floor.
How to Do Peacock Pose (Mayurasana)
- Begin on all fours. Then take your knees wide and slide your hands back between your knees.
- Rotate your arms so that your fingers are toward the back of your mat and your wrists face the front. Bring the pinky sides of your hands to meet. Keep the palms flat.
- Round your spine into a cat shape in order to get your elbows into position under your belly. Bend the elbows to 90 degrees. Your elbows will dig into your belly but keep a firm core.
- Bring your forehead to the floor. Straighten your legs and place the tops of your feet on your mat.
- Lift your head off the floor. Shift your weight forward a little bit. Keep your legs and butt actively engaged as your lift your legs parallel to the floor.
- Hold at first for about 10 seconds, gradually increasing your time to 30 seconds as you gain more experience with the pose. Then lower your head and feet to the floor, bend your knees, and lift your torso off your arms.
Place a pillow under your head. If you lose your balance in this pose, you may fall forward onto your head or neck. For safety’s sake, keep a pillow there to catch you if you fall.
Peacock Pose for Beginners
This is a very challenging pose that requires great strength. If you want to work toward it, keep up a consistent practice. Since the arm position is very awkward, you can practice getting your arms under your body with the elbows pressed into your abdomen.
Mayurasana is typically more difficult for women, whose center of gravity is lower than men. Anyone with heavy legs and pelvis and short arms will have to work much harder to lift the lower body, since the center of gravity will not be over the elbows.
- One way to lighten the load is to fold the legs into Lotus Pose (Padmasana) to bring more of the weight of the lower body closer to the elbows.
- If padmasana is not accessible for you, try the pose with your knees bent, feet together, and knees out to the side as in Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana).
If you don’t get off the floor, don’t worry. Just by making the effort you will begin to experience the benefits of the pose.
Peacock Pose for Advanced
Arm balances are tricky business and require lots of practice and dedication. Don’t chase the posture or a shape, this will lead to disappointment and often injury. Instead – focus on each moment, step, and pose leading up to the full expression. As always friends, it’s about the journey not the destination.
- Once you’ve perfected this pose, try to achieve perfection in fulfilling Feathered Peacock Pose (Pincha Mayurasana).
- Advanced practitioners may be able to go for one armed peacock Wounded Peacock Pose (Pungu Mayurasana). The hand that you are balancing on should be moved toward the midline. If you are able to lift one arm, extend it by your side or in front of you.
Balancing in Mayurasana
To get your feet off of the floor you have to balance. And to balance you have to have as much of your body in front of your hands (which are your balance point) as behind your hands. Generally this means that in order to lift your feet you have to move your body forwards. Since your belly is on your elbows this means that you have to move your elbows forwards as well. Lengthen your neck as you do as your reach forwards. It may add a tiny little bit of leverage. For extra fun and excitement in this yoga pose, lift your legs higher. Your chin will come closer to the floor as a result. This isn’t a requirement of the pose. Some people will be happy just to balance, but it does show an extra degree of control and it’s kind of fun too. Plus, you may be able to get your forearms more vertical.