Feathered Peacock Pose
(pin-cha my-your-AHS-anna) piñca = feather
mayura = peacock
Step by Step
Perform a modified Adho Muhka Svanasana at your yoga wall, with your palms and forearms on the floor. Your fingertips should be right at the base of the wall, and your forearms parallel to each other at shoulder width. This pose isn’t quite as scary as Adho Mukha Vrksasana; it has a firmer base of support, and the head isn’t as far away from the floor. But it can still be somewhat intimidating. To ready yourself for and secure yourself in this inversion, firm your shoulder blades against your back torso and pull them toward your tailbone. Then rotate your upper arms outward, to keep the shoulder blades broad, and hug your forearms inward. Finally spread your palms and press your inner wrists firmly against the floor.
Now bend one knee and step the foot in, closer to the wall (let’s say the left leg), but keep the other (i.e. right) leg active by extending through the heel. Then take a few practice hops before you try to launch yourself upside down. Sweep your right leg through a wide arc toward the wall and kick your left foot off the floor, immediately pushing through the heel to straighten the leg. Hop up and down like this several times, each time pushing off the floor a little higher. Exhale deeply each time you hop.
Hopping up and down like this may be all you can manage for now. Regularly practice your strength poses, like Adho Mukha Svanasana (or the modified version that’s the beginning position here), Plank Pose, and Chaturanga Dandasana. Eventually you’ll be able to kick all the way into the pose. At first your heels may crash into the wall, but again with more practice you’ll be able to swing your heels up lightly to the wall.
If your armpits and groins are tight, your lower back may be deeply arched. To lengthen it, draw your front ribs into your torso, reach your tailbone toward your heels, and slide your heels higher up the wall. Draw the navel toward the spine. Squeeze the outer legs together and roll the thighs in. In Pincha Mayurasana your head should be off the floor; hang it from a spot between your shoulder blades and gaze out into the center of the room.
Stay in the pose 10 to 15 seconds. Gradually work your way up to 1 minute. When you come down, be sure not to sink onto the shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades lifted and broad, and take one foot down at a time with an exhalation. Lift into Adho Mukha Svanasana for 30 seconds to a minute. We tend to kick up with the same leg all the time: be sure to alternate your kicking leg, one day right, next day left.