Mayurasana has basically always been my #goals” pose—something I thought perhaps, maybe one day, I would be able to get it, but I wasn’t holding my breath sorta thing. This is a pose where your hands are facing opposite your face, your elbows are pressing into your belly and you’re praying for all you’re worth that your feet will lift up off the floor…. as well as your face.
(or that may just be me… I know lots of people that can do this pose, it’s just never been ME!)
Recently, I Was training with my teacher, Manju Jois and I was working on some second series poses (this pose comes towards the end of the second series, and for me, has ALWAYS been the “pinnacle” pose of the series—well this one and Karandavasana. (I will write a how to tutorial as soon as I master it.😉 ) Both of these postures require a Crap ton (that’s street slang for A LOT) of belly and posterior chain strength and—most importantly coordination. The “C” word being the operative word here.
So back in January, at another training with Manju, he was helping me in this pose and I didn’t have the strength (yet) to hold both my head and my feet up. My core and glutes just weren’t capable of holding everything up. Since January, I doubled down on strength training those two regions and I’ve kept working on this darn pose.
Nothing was working.
Granted, that’s just like 5 months in the grand scheme of things, but 5 months to a 10 month old is literally like a lifetime away, so ya—it felt like like a LONG TIME!
SO, at this most recent training, I was working on my nemesis pose and Manju walked up and said, Ah Jennifer, still working on Mayurasana? I was like, Yes…..He watched me try (and fail) and he said, why don’t you try to move your elbows apart a little bit. (the “real” pose has your elbows touching basically on your belly button.) As soon as I tried that, viola, feet and legs up off the mat. It was a miracle.
I say, “viola” but really, it’s still a hard pose and I do it MUCH better when my knees are bent and my feet are touching, but WHATEVER—at least both the feet and the head are off the mat –so I’m taking it!
The next day, I got to mayurasana again and bam, everything lifted—this time with the feet coming a little closer together. The trick? –Although, It really wasn’t a trick, it was to “make room for my anatomy.”
So, before we get into drills to build strength for Mayurasana, my first suggestion for you would be –especially if you’re REALLY REALLY close already, widen your elbows. For me, the trick was to get my elbows basically right on the edge of the line where the obliques meet the midline. That was wide enough to help me create the fulcrum from which to balance the top and bottom half of my body, nearly easily enough. I say nearly easily because it’s still a lot of work to hold up this posterior chain of mine! 😊
Tips to get into Mayurasana
- Start with your legs bent, like you’re channeling a little frog swimming in a blue lagoon. This helps bring your weight forward some so the posterior chain doesn’t have to work as hard.
- Go ahead and place a block under your head (it’s not pretty, but this pose doesn’t have to be on social media, don’t worry. 😉)
- If this hurts your wrists, try with your hands midway between forward and backward. This was miraculous for me since I’ve had surgery on my left wrist before and I had a lot of fascia (scaring) to work through to get that mobility.
- You can have your elbows further down on your torso-closer to your pants line to start, but your goal is to be at your belly button or higher. (#goals!)
- As you get stronger in your little froggy position, try extending your legs and propping one foot up on a block and lifting the other (then, switch sides)
- Do this every single time you practice!
That’s a lot of tips, I know, but this is a challenging pose!
Here are a few yoga drills to help you get strong enough to do Mayurasana
- Chaturanga — up, the most basic transitional pose in all of movement based yoga practices. It builds amazing strength in your upper body and core as well as legs—it’s the mac daddy of yoga
drills and I highly recommend having this pose mastered before moving to any other arm
balance, whether it’s Peacock or crow. I have a SLEW of online tutorials on mastering this
pose you can check out here.
Side note: as a yoga teacher, I Can’t tell you how many injuries I have seen by people that have rushed this posture—racing through the pose (because it is hard) and trying to get the “Cool” poses. Dude, it’s not worth it. Master the Chaturanga. Master doing, I don’t know 10—dare I say 20 of these poses in a row and THEN think about other arm balances. Your wrists, elbows, shoulders, upper body in general will all thank you because you’re building strength and stability. If it hurts—stop. THEN, go see a knowledgeable teacher. Or, if you’re not near one, sign up for the Thrive online Yoga community and come get one on one virtually with me and I can help!
- Navasana – yup, boat pose. If you can do 5 boat poses, holding them for 5 breaths and not want to immediately vomit, “Good on ya, mate!” that means your belly is almost ready for this pose!
- Utthita Hasta Padangustasana – standing hand to big toe pose –especially the 3rd variety where you hold the leg up without your hand. This pose works your balance, hip flexors, abdominal muscles and glutes. Get to where, on a good day, you can hold each part of this pose for a solid 5 – 10 breaths, especially the pose where you aren’t holding on to the toe, but the foot is still extended out. It’s a GAME changer, trust me.
- Shalambasana – or Locust Pose. This pose is excellent for building strength in your entire posterior chain-which is SUPER important for Peacock pose. Honestly, I do this pose every single time I practice. IT’s great for building up the muscles in the back, particularly along the spine, those little multifidus muscles, which help to provide a strong support system for the discs between your vertebrae. I had a chiropractor told me that this “tummy time” for adults is great for helping us manage emotions and can even tap into our creative side a little more…so go ahead, your spouse / significant other will thank you!!
You can do these drills every time your practice or several times a week. The more you do them, the stronger you are going to get, and you’ll notice a difference, quickly. I promise! (I mean, 5 months seemed like a long time, but I’m a slow learner AND I didn’t know about the secret of slightly wider base!)
Let me know what you think!? Did you try all the drills? Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing! I recommend doing these drills basically every time you practice. If you practice yoga 5-6 days a week you can do these quick drills in total or just a couple each time you practice. I practice them in some variation every time I come to the mat because I am really focusing on integrating my muscle systems…Post child birth—those belly muscles don’t like to work (period) and making them work at the same time as other muscles, especially opposing muscles, that seems somewhat impossible sometime! Therefore, I PRACTICE, and I invite you to do so as well!
What did you think of these exercises? I’d love to hear how it went! If you loved practicing these yoga inspired strength building drills, then you’ll love the Thrive Online HIT Yogis Community! We take the practice you love (yoga) and add some of your love to hate High Intensity Training skills to the mix and BAM you have a super awesome, low impact, amazingly effective calorie burning, strength building Flexibility making program that you can do from the comfort of your own home! If you’re in the Chattanooga, TN area, I invite you to come and practice with us at Thrive Yoga and Wellness. We are a community of yoga lovers coming together over 40 times each week to move, breathe and experience a life that truly Thrives.
Now, if you loved this tutorial, or if you want to learn more about yoga, Thrive Yoga and Wellness has the Chattanooga area’s ONLY modular CERTIFIED 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training Program. It’s an AMAZING program designed around YOUR busy life and includes an entire year of unlimited yoga to the studio! You’ll learn everything you need to become an effective yoga teacher and you’ll have the support you need throughout the entire process. Don’t let crazy long weekend training schedules hold you back from your dream of being a yoga teacher, come train with Thrive! Check it out here.If you’re looking for something fun to do this September, we are hosting our very first Thrive Yoga Festival at Audubon Acres. Our first festival, we will have live music, guided meditations, hiking meditations, SUP yoga, Aerial Yoga Children’s area and activity, as well as all the yoga you could ask for! RSVP now for best class selection. Ticket prices start at $20 per child (including 2.5 hours of child watch time) and $35 per adult! I can’t wait to practice with you soon!