Want to learn more about Pincha Mayurasana aka Feathered Peacock Pose? In this post, I share the benefits of Pincha Mayurasana, a complete yoga pose breakdown, contraindications, myths, a step-by-step video, modifications and more.
Writing about and thinking about Pincha Mayurasana makes me wish we were able to practice in the same room and help each other with partner work. I don’t do as much partner work in my classes or workshops as I once did, but there are some poses that really benefit from it.
Pincha Mayurasana is one of those poses. The set up for the assist is accessible to almost everyone, and it is a great way for students to finally find the shape of the pose without always over-kicking for the support of the wall.
Nerdy, nerdy yoga talk. Sorry/not sorry. I know that’s what some of you are into. As am I.
I hope this blog post helps you learn something about Pincha Mayurasana (sometimes known as Forearm Stand) and what you can work on to find your pose. If you’ve already found it, I hope this post can help you refine it.
- Pincha Mayurasana Quick Facts
- Pincha Mayurasana Benefits
- Precautions & Contraindications
- Myths & Misconceptions About Feathered Peacock Pose
- Pincha Mayurasana Breakdown
- Modifications & Variations
- Yoga Poses Related to Feathered Peacock Pose
- Related Posts & Videos
- Gear & Resources for This Pose
- A Final Note About Feathered Peacock Pose
This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Pincha Mayurasana Quick Facts
|English||Feathered Peacock Pose / Peacock Feather Pose / Forearm Stand|
|Meaning||Pincha means feather.|
Mayura mean peacock.
Asana means pose or posture.
Pincha Mayurasana is generally translated as Feathered Peacock Pose. When practicing the pose you are meant to resemble a peacock, with your feet representing the peacock’s tail feathers spread out.
Forearm Stand is probably the most commonly used name for this pose in English-language yoga classes. I come from a tradition that prioritised learning and using the Sanskrit names for the asanas, so it has always been Pincha Mayurasana to me.
Pincha Mayurasana Benefits
Note: I only include the scientifically supported benefits of Pincha Mayurasana here. Plenty of claims about other supposed benefits (from the plausible to the magical to the ridiculous) have been made. To me, pseudo-scientific claims only serve to harm the yoga community, so I choose not to give them airtime here.
The main physical benefits of Pincha Mayurasana include:
- Strengthens wrists and forearms.
- Strengthens biceps and triceps.
- Strengthens shoulders.
- Strengthens pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, teres major, serratus anterior, trapezius and triceps.
- Strengthens scapular stabilisers (serratus anterior, rhomboids, levator scapulae, trapezius).
- Tones your core muscles (transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, obliques).
- Strengthens erector spinae and other back muscles.
- Strengthens the adductor muscles of your legs (inner thighs).
- Strengthens hip extensors (gluteus maximus).
- Improves balance.
If you want more on the benefits of yoga, see our complete guide to the benefits of yoga, which includes a history of yoga plus the origins of our modern yoga practice and much more.
Precautions & Contraindications
Remember that while yoga is for everyone, not all poses are for all people! Some of the reasons you may want to avoid practicing Feathered Peacock Pose include being pregnant, having a disc injury in your spine, or blood pressure complications. Always consult with your medical professional before you begin.
- If you have high blood pressure, it is not recommended that you practice any yoga poses where your head is brought below your heart. Therefore, if you have high blood pressure, you likely want to avoid practicing Pincha Mayurasana.
- If you have recently had abdominal surgery, you may wish to avoid this pose as you need a strong core to hold yourself up in Peacock Feather Pose.
- If you have an injury to your back, shoulder, or neck, you will likely wish to avoid Pincha Mayurasana until you are fully healed.
- If you have a lower back injury, or hyper-mobility in your lower back, practice with extra awareness of toning your transverse abdominus to protect your lower back and prevent it from hyperextending.
- Traditionally, students are instructed that inversions should be avoided during menstruation, however this is not based in medically-sound advice. See Myths & Misconceptions section below.
Myths & Misconceptions About Feathered Peacock Pose
Peacocks in Hinduism & India
Peacocks are native to India, and as such they have been part of Indian folklore for thousands of years. In Hinduism, the peacock is a symbol of grace and power, and it is said to bring luck and prosperity to loved ones.
- In 322 BCE, Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan Dynasty, named for the peacock.
- Krishna once played his flute and peacocks came around, danced, and offered him their feathers, which he has worn ever since in his crown.
- The peacock is the national bird of India.
- A peacock is involved in the creation of amrita, the nectar of immortality, which first appears in the Rgveda.
You can read a lot more about the history of peacocks and Indian culture on this website.
Pincha your asana
While there is only one Sanskrit name for this pose, there are many options for what to call it in English: Forearm Stand, Forearm Balance Pose, Peacock Pose, Peacock Feather Pose, Feathered Peacock Pose. And I’m sure there are others as well.
I often call it simply Pincha in class. There is no other pose with Pincha in the name so it makes a good shorthand.
I tend not to use the English pose names very much — and I use them even less when teaching the more complex poses. My assumption is that by the time students are ready to practice the more challenging asanas, they are also ready to learn, and use, the Sanskrit names. This holds true for lots of poses when I teach, such as Hanumanasana, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, Eka Pada Koundinyasana, Eka Hasta Bhujasana, and Astavakrasana.
Inversions and menstruation
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…. It is often repeated by yoga teachers, and in yoga texts and teacher trainings, that women should never do an inversion when they are menstruating.
In my experience, the teacher then fails to give any reason or explanation as to why that might be true.
There are lots of theories floating around, including ideas involving “reversal of menstrual flow”, “bad blood”, endometriosis, apana vayu, and more. Most of it is often something the teacher heard at their teacher training and have repeated ever since. It gets repeated in yoga texts, in yoga blogs and articles all over the world. None of it stands up under scrutiny.
Mr. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga is filled with it:
Special provisions for women:
Avoid asanas during the menstrual period. On no account stand on your head during the menstrual period.Light on yoga, B.K.s.iyengar
If you don’t want to invert when menstruating, that’s up to you. If you want to, that’s also up to you. If you think chakras are real and you don’t want to disrupt your vayus, by all means do your thing. Inverting, just like everything else in yoga, is a choice. It’s your choice.
Just do it
There are lots of ways people instruct Pincha Mayurasana but you have likely been in more than one class where the instructor says something like, “Now kick up.”
I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me then that this is the instruction on one popular yoga website:
“1. From Scorpion Pose: Inhale – stretch the legs up. Exhale.” [source]
If you don’t know what Scorpion Pose is, well, I would argue it is a more complicated pose than Forearm Stand, what do you think?
Historically, however, the instructions for this pose have been minimal. In Light on Yoga, Mr. Iyengar also offer a blunt instruction of his own: “Exhale, swing the legs up and try to balance without dropping the legs behind the head.” At least he offers the advice later of “doing the pose against a wall so that you do not topple over.”
Pincha Mayurasana Breakdown
How to do Pincha Mayurasana
Pincha Mayurasana is an arm balance, which means it is challenging for many of us. Finding the ability to balance in this pose takes patience, focus, skill and strength. As a result it also builds all of these as well.
I am going to instruct practicing this pose in the middle of the room, as that is what we are working towards in this pose.
The good news is that there are lots of different ways to use yoga props to make Pincha Mayurasana more accessible. Check out the next section, Modifications & Variations, to learn how to use blocks, straps, chairs, and the wall to help progress your practice.
I will also be instructing entering this pose with a push-off with your bottom leg to get your body moving. Some people have hamstrings that are open enough they don’t need the push but instead can carefully lift their legs one at a time up into the pose. It’s beautiful, and one day maybe I will take the time and practice needed to make this part of my practice.
- Start in Bharmanasana — come onto your hands and knees/all 4s.
- Place your forearms on the ground so that your elbows are where your hands were, your hands are on the ground in front of your elbows, and your forearms are parallel to each other.
- Shift your shoulders as necessary so that you have your shoulders over your elbows.
- Lift your knees off the ground and straighten your legs, keeping your shoulders over your elbows.
- Hug your elbows in so they stay under your shoulders.
Note: As your weight shifts over your elbows, your elbows will tend to slide out to the sides. It is very important to keep your elbows underneath your shoulders. Actively hug in with your elbows and upper arms (this involves your pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, teres major, serratus anterior, trapezius and triceps!).
- Walk your feet closer to your face, but only come in as close as you are also able to with straight legs. Keep your shoulders over your elbows.
- Lift through your sit bones (ischial tuberocities) and bring a slight anterior tilt to your pelvis (a slight lower back arch).
- Push down through your forearms to help stabilise your shoulders on your back.
- Lift your right foot off the ground. Lift it straight up. Do not let your knee or foot turn out to the right.
- Bend your left knee part way towards the ground and lift your right leg higher.
- Bounce a little in your left knee as you lift and lower your right leg slightly to build momentum.
- Slowly lift your right leg until it stretches straight up.
- As your right leg lifts, push off with your left foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Straighten your left leg immediately to help stabilise your pose.
- Work to find your balance in the pose with your right leg lifted and left leg stretched out parallel to the ground (legs split at roughly 90º). Then slowly lift your left leg up as you engage your inner thighs on both legs to help stabilise your body.
- Squeeze your inner thighs (adductors) together, push down through your forearms, and lift up through your torso, hips and legs.
- Gaze forward slightly, lengthening through your neck.
- Tone your belly so that you don’t over-arch your lower back (Uddiyana Bandha). Work to have your body more straight up-and-down rather than curved like a banana.
- Steady your breath and hold the pose for a few breaths.
- This is Pincha Mayurasana.
- Exit as you entered: lower one leg at a time.
- Always take a moment with your head below your heart — Balasana (Child’s Pose), is a good option — before sitting up after any inversion. This simply gives your internal gyroscope (which is actually your inner ears) a moment to reset after being upside-down.
Feathered Peacock Pose is a two-sided pose. Sort of. You will naturally favour lifting one leg over the other. So, practice it both ways. Now that you did your natural way, practice the pose lifting your other leg first. It’s all about finding balance…
Modifications & Variations
Check out the Preparatory Poses section below for lots of suggestions of poses you can use to help prepare you for Pincha Mayurasana including Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold), Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Leg Forward Fold), Phalakasana 2 (Forearm Plank), Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog).
When practicing Pincha be sure to:
- Keep your head off the ground.
- Don’t drop your chest — push your forearms down and move your chest towards the back of your rib cage.
- Pull back slightly with your arms to expand your chest as you look forward.
- Practice at a wall until you are comfortable coming up into Feathered Peacock Pose at the wall but without touching the wall.
If your elbows slide out
You need your elbows under your shoulders in order for your foundation in Pincha Mayurasana to have integrity. You can use a yoga strap and tie it around your upper arms so that when you set up for Peacock Feather Pose your elbows stay under your shoulders and you cannot move them any wider.
Then place a yoga block between your hands. Grip the block with your index finger and thumb of each hand, making an L shape with the thumb and index finger of each hand (the right hand makes a backwards L). Place your hands around the block so that your thumbs are along the bottom edge and your index fingers are on the sides of the block, and your palms are flat on the floor.
Note: The block works for most people. If you have quite narrow, or broad shoulders then you might need to narrow, or widen the block as possible/needed.
This technique can help students learn the correct shape to make with their arms, however it encourages you to push your arms out into the strap, and you end up relying on the strap for support, rather than building the strength needed to hug in with your arms and elbows.
For this reason, I don’t often teach the strap option. I tend to use the strap with students who are brand new to the pose and then we progress to using two blocks and no strap. See the next section for details of that set-up.
The Two Block Set-up
This is what I tend to use to help students learn how to squeeze in with their elbows, forearms, and wrists. Place one block between your elbows/upper forearms so that when you squeeze, your elbows are roughly shoulder-distance apart.
Then place a second yoga block between your hands. Grip the block with your index finger and thumb of each hand, making an L shape with the thumb and index finger of each hand (the right hand makes a backwards L). Place your hands around the block so that your thumbs are along the bottom edge and your index fingers are on the sides of the block, and your palms are flat on the floor.
This teaches the correct action as well as the correct shape. The blocks force you to engage. As I mentioned above, using a strap is common, but it encourages you to push out, which is doing nothing to build the strength you need to hug in and create the stable foundation Pincha Mayurasana demands.
The two-block set-up helps you build the strength to hold yourself up. You’ll feel stronger and be more successful in the pose.
If you have tight armpits or shoulders
You will find it challenging to flex your shoulder as much as necessary for a well-aligned Pincha Mayurasana if you have tight armpits or shoulders. You can work to increase the range of motion at your shoulder joint by standing facing a wall and stretching your arms up the wall. Take your time and get closer to the wall little by little.
You can also spend some time holding your arms in Gomukhasana and hanging out there while your body starts to open a little. You may want to use a strap to hold between your hands when doing Gomukhasana arms.
Often people have tight fascia in their armpit, and lots of students have tight shoulders. These both restrict your movement and, because you are starting to move your body into positions you haven’t stretched into before, you notice the limitations more.
If your tightness is muscular or fascial then you may find that, over several weeks or months of adding this work to your practice, your shoulders are able to flex more.
However, we aren’t all the same (as much as we are) and the structures in your shoulder may mean you will never be able to flex your elbows to 180º overhead (which is essentially what we do in the setup for Pincha Mayurasana). There are skeletal differences that can make extreme range-of-motion movements impossible for some people.
Injuries can also limit your range of motion long after you think you have recovered.
If you have weak adductors (inner thighs)
Have a friend put a block between your thighs once you are up in the pose. Squeeze the block. This helps create strength and muscle memory so that you learn to do this action without the block.
You can also encourage your inner thighs to work more by moving the front of your ribs and your ASIS (hip points) in slightly. Then engage from your sternum to your pubic bone slightly to activate your rectus abdominus (aka six-pack) so that the front of your core supports the work of your back. Stretch straight up through your torso, hips, legs and feet.
If you have a hyper-mobile low back
Focus on toning your abdomen before you go up into the pose, but also re-engage it when you find your way into Pincha Mayurasana. Move your ASIS (hip points) and your front ribs in slightly. This helps to tone the abdominal muscles that go across your belly (transverse abdominus). Next engage slightly from your sternum to your pubic bone. This is to tone the abdominal muscles that run up and down your torso (rectus abdominus).
Toning your transverse abdominus helps create the strength and support your lower back requires, while toning your rectus abdominus supports the work your back (erector spinae) needs to do to hold your torso up.
If your Feather Peacock looks more like a banana 🍌
See the previous modification.
If you have tight hamstrings or your back rounds
Place yoga blocks under your feet. You can stack them up as high as needed. This helps you get your hips over your shoulders. When your hamstrings are tight, it can be challenging to do that with straight legs.
When you can stack your hips, shoulders and elbows with your legs straight you are so very close to being able slowly lift each leg up into the pose. Keep practicing.
Use a wall to learn how to balance
When you practice at the wall, I recommend using the two-block setup I describe above. I recommend you also set up with blocks under your feet if you like, as I described in the previous modification.
How to use a chair to balance in the room (advanced)
Using a yoga chair is a modification I might offer to students who are working to balance in the middle of the room. You are able to find more strength in your arms and chest by using the chair’s legs and this allows you to put your energy into holding yourself up from the solid base you create.
- Set up a yoga chair — or other suitable chair — on your mat, at the wall with the back of the chair at the wall, feet of the chair on your mat.
- Place a yoga blanket on the seat of the chair so that it hangs over the edge of the seat. This is to protect your back as you kick up.
- Place a couple of yoga blocks on your mat so that you can step on them when you set your legs up. Don’t step on to the blocks yet, just place them on your mat.
- Set up for Pincha Mayurasana on all fours, with your forearms on the outside of the legs of the chair. Hold the legs of the chair closest to the wall and squeeze the front legs with your forearms (or upper arms depending on what touches them).
- Have your head under the seat of the chair in the space between the floor and the seat.
- Step your feet onto the blocks and straighten your legs.
- Enter Pincha Mayurasana from here.
Note: The back of the chair can stop you from moving your back too close to the wall, preventing banana back, however, it can also push you away from the chair and keep you from coming up. Finding the sweet spot where you set your forearms the right distance away from the wall for the chair to be supportive and not pushing you away takes practice.
How to use a chair for beginners
In this variation of Feathered Peacock Pose you end up with your feet on the seat of the chair, your hands and forearms squeezing blocks and pushing into the ground, and your hips over your shoulders.
- Set up a yoga chair — or other suitable chair — on your mat, at the wall with the back of the chair at the wall, feet of the chair on your mat.
- If you have an extra yoga mat, fold it up and drape it over the the chair seat. This is so when your feet are on the chair there is a sticky mat for them to stick to.
- Grab two yoga blocks.
- Use the two block setup (see above).
- Face out into the room, not towards the wall.
- Step your feet onto seat of the chair and straighten your legs.
- Squeeze in and push down.
- Bring your shoulders over your elbows.
- Walk your feet closer to the edge of the seat (closer towards your face).
- Work to lift your hips over your shoulders while also working for the natural curves of your spine.
- Tone your belly and lift through your sit bones.
- Enter Pincha Mayurasana from here, or play with lifting one leg and working to get your heel over your hip and hip over shoulders, shoulders over elbows.
Using the support of the blocks and the chair allows you to adjust your shoulders, spine, head, and neck placement. It is a chance to feel what Pincha Mayurasana can feel like once you are able to hold your hips over your shoulders with your spine long and core engaged. By walking your feet closer to the front edge of the chair seat and lifting through your torso and sit bones, you will learn to refine your shape.
It is very useful to do this work with someone who can spot you (assist), observe and offer cues to help you adjust. It is hard to see yourself when you are practicing inversions and and extra set of eyes can help.
The best prop might be a friend
It is so helpful to work on Pincha Mayurasana with friend who does yoga, or a yoga teacher. Having someone who can assist and observe you in inversions can be really beneficial.
Practice Pincha Mayurasana with an assist rather than a wall and I believe you will see a faster progression towards unassisted balancing in Pincha (and this is true for all the arm balances). It is difficult to observe yourself in most inversions, even with a mirror. Let someone else be your eyes, or even your support.
It is very useful to do this work with someone who can spot you (assist), observe your pose and offer cues to help you adjust.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a yoga-friend who knows how to practice Forearm Stand, ask them if they’ll spot you and offer you some tips.
Variations on a Peacock
You can do an L-shape variation of this pose, placing your feet on the wall at hip height, and pushing your legs straight so that your shoulders are over your elbows. This is called Ardha Pincha Mayurasana and it is an excellent way to learn what the final form of Pincha Mayurasana can feel like.
Viparita Karani, or Legs Up The Wall Pose, isn’t really related to Pincha Mayurasana but I feel it is a good alternative pose for people don’t want to do the inversion but who do want the benefits of having their feet above their head, with a passive hamstring opener as a bonus.
Mayurasana is a fun and challenging arm balance where your entire weight is balanced on your upper arms, with your elbows at your navel and your fingers facing back towards your toes. Your body is held straight, off the ground, supported by your hands and forearms.
Yoga Poses Related to Feathered Peacock Pose
- Marjaryasana and Bitilasana / Cat and Cow Pose
- Uttanasana / Standing Forward Fold
- Ardha Uttanasana / Half Forward Fold Pose
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog Pose
- Prasarita Padottanasana / Wide Leg Forward Fold
- Utthita Trikonasana / Triangle Pose
- Paschimottanasana / Seated Forward Fold
- Janu Sirsasana / Forehead to Knee Pose
- Indudalasana / Standing Side Bend
- Vrksasana / Tree Pose
- Phalakasana / Plank Pose
- Phalakasana 2 / Forearm Plank
- Ardha Pincha Mayurasana / Dolphin Pose aka Half Feathered Peacock Pose
- Kakasana / Crow Pose
- Gomukhasana / Cow Face Pose
- Salabhasana Variations / Locust Pose Variation
- Ardha Hanumanasana / Half Hanuman Pose (Runner’s Lunge)
- Balasana / Child’s Pose
- Vajrasana / Thunderbolt Pose
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog Pose
- Adho Mukha Vrksasana / Handstand
- Viparita Karani / Legs Up The Wall Pose
- Baddha Konasana / Cobbler’s Pose
Poses To Take Your Practice Further
- Vrischikasana / Scorpion Pose
- Ganda Bherundasana / Formidable Face Pose
- Hanumanasana / Full Splits
- Funky Pincha Mayurasana / A Mash-up of Pincha Mayurasana and Sirsasana 2 / Tripod Headstand
- Padmasana in Mayurasana / Lotus in Peacock Pose
- Adho Mukha Vrksasana / Handstand
Related Posts & Videos
- Post: How to Do Kakasana – Benefits & Yoga Pose Tutorial
- Post: Paschimottanasana Benefits & Yoga Pose Tutorial
- Video: Yoga Pose Breakdown | Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Gear & Resources for This Pose
- BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga
- Darren Rhodes Yoga Resource Practice Manual
- Stephen’s Sustainable Cork Yoga Mat by Corq
- Cork Yoga Blocks
- Organic Cotton Yoga Straps
- Machine Washable Vegan Yoga Blankets
- Folding Yoga Chair
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- Use our code AYO10 for 10% off all Corq yoga mats.
Good for the planet and great for your practice!
A Final Note About Feathered Peacock Pose
I just love the two-block setup I describe above, and I teach it basically every time I teach Pincha Mayurasana. If you skipped over the Modifications section, scroll back and check that out.
Arm balancing inversions take practice. They require patience, dedication, motivation, and time. But they reward you by refining these very skills in you. Practice. Please practice.
Namaste OMies, Stephen
I hope this post helps your find ways that Pincha Mayurasana can help support your on your yoga adventure. The more you understand about each pose the more it will help you find the strength and clarity needed to live your adventure to the fullest!