Who’s ready to get upside down? I know I am. But let’s be real, when am I not? Pincha Mayurasana is otherwise known as Forearm Stand. Which means we’ll be getting comfy going upside down by holding ourselves up by our forearms today.
Oftentimes, people assume that Pincha is easier than Handstand because it’s lower to the ground. The truth is, many people face more mental blocks than physical blocks when it comes to inversions. So, when they see a shape that doesn’t look as scary to fall from, they assume it’s physically easier. Wrong.
While Pincha might reduce the fear factor of falling, this yoga pose actually requires more strength and flexibility in the shoulders and chest than Handstand. You’ll find a lot more pressure on the shoulders as you’re trying Pincha, as opposed to Handstand. And Forearm Stand often requires a little longer warm up, because both strength and flexibility are key.
This post will cover 5 tips on how to improve your forearm stand as a little taste tester to my latest series, Practice Your Pincha. This 4 week series will provide you a variety of weekly drills, flows, meditations, and pranayama styles to assist your Pincha progress. The best part? It’s only $19.99 for a full month of classes.
Can’t beat that!
5 Tips To Improve Your Forearm Stand
Today as we dive into my top 5 tips for practicing your Pincha, I want to point out that all of these tips are physical. Of course having a physical understanding of the body is crucial when you’re moving it into all of these wild and weird shapes.
And also, it’s important to remember the mind.
If you have a fear of going upside down, a fear of getting hurt, of falling, or looking silly trying something new- don’t worry. You’re not alone. The majority of my students tell me these same fears year after year. So, if that’s you- it’s okay!
Remember that the mind can impact the body tremendously. Meaning, your mind might create a physical block, even if your physical body is actually strong enough or flexible enough. Your mind is fearful, and therefore trying to protect your body by actually standing in the way.
In this case, meditation is your best friend. This is why I’ve included meditations and pranayamas in my Practice Your Pincha series, to work through the mental and emotional blocks while we work with the body.
Learn How To Fall
If you’re afraid, one of the best things to learn first is how the heck to fall out of Pincha. Typically, we kick too hard, create a banana back, and then land in a Forearm Wheel….or flat on our backs if we’re not bendy enough for the Wheel shape. Ouch.
The below tips will help to improve control, and reduce the bendy back fall into Forearm Wheel situation. But even still, falling happens. So, best to learn how to do it properly.
The easiest way to fall out of Pincha is to tuck your chin in towards your chest as hard as you can, and somersault roll out of it by hugging your knees in towards your body. If you have the sensation that you’ve kicked too hard, and you’re going to fall over backwards, tuck and roll.
Adjust Your Base
The traditional alignment of Pincha is with forearms parallel to one another, like the number 11. However, I’m of the belief that as long as you’re standing on your forearms, then you’re doing Pincha.
I say this because while the parallel forearms are traditional alignment, this puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders, and also requires quite a bit of chest opening that many people don’t have yet. Rather than giving up, simply adjust your base. This means you can interlace your hands into a fist, make prayer hands, or any other grip you’d like. This allows for more space across the chest, and a bit more stability overall.
The most important thing about your base is that your elbows are under your shoulders. Usually they want to fan out to the sides to compensate for a lack of opening in the shoulders and chest. Continue to hug them in, and press the ground away from you with your forearms.
Compression work is your best friend when it comes to inversions. If you’ve already taken my How To Handstand series, then you know that I drill compression home in every single class. Don’t worry, your core will thank me later.
Compression is the hugging of the front body to the back body, like Cat Pose, or an abdominal crunch. This not only strengthens the core, which is a vital part of the body to stabilize you while you’re upside down- but it also helps to strengthen the hip flexors which can really help when you’re learning to float, press, or lift with more control.
Practicing compression as you kick into Pincha is easy. All you need to do is snuggle a block, or a rolled up towel between the thigh of the leg that’s kicking off the ground and your belly. As you kick with that leg, keep the item in place. This item will serve as a brake, and makes it anatomically impossible to fall over into Forearm Wheel.
Now that we’re talking about kicking into Pincha, let’s discuss how to kick with control. Well, similar to Handstand, the longer your hamstrings are, the less you’ll have to kick, because the more inverted you’ll already be. So, work on your hamstring opening as you warm up.
Next up, please don’t kick the wall. Like truly, it’s not going to help you. It’s only going to create muscle memory that causes you to overkick every single time, while also creating a mental dependency. Instead, I’d rather you practice controlled kicks with the compression work outlined above.
Lastly, as you kick, keep the legs as active as possible. This will help them to feel more controllable as your body weight suddenly shoots overhead. This means even your toes are alive.
Strength and Flexibility
Pincha requires strength and flexibility. This isn’t new news. All yoga poses need a blend of the two. For Pincha, you’ll need to have a pretty balance of strength and flexibility particularly in the chest and shoulders.
This means that you should start incorporating Dolphin Pose regularly into your practice if you don’t already. This is the starting point for Pincha, and a really great yoga posture to build both strength and flexibility in the shoulders and chest.
Another posture to include in your warm up for a Pincha flow is Puppy Pose. Puppy Pose can easily be seen as a posture only for flexibility, but you can activate your Puppy by tenting your fingers to lift the armpits and elbow up off the mat. Plus, adding a spiraling motion of your inner thighs out and back behind you to turn up the sensation in the back body.
Overall, your Pincha practice will be just like your yoga practice as a whole: it takes time. Enjoy the process, have fun, and try to smile as much as you can along the way.