Problem with Pincha Mayurasana?

Today Katelyn said something about my forearm balance and suddenly the light went on. Maybe this will help you, too.

I’ve been in hate with forearm balance for a long time. I don’t understand why I can’t do it. I can headstand all day. When I hop up into handstand, I  actually arrive in handstand, slightly more often than not. So, why can’t I balance on my forearms? I’ve been blaming my lack of shoulder flexibility. You need shoulder stability and  mobility for Pincha, and I know I have more of A than B.

Today I demonstrated for Katelyn. It is Day 1 of Lora Hogan’s 21 Day Inversion-a-Day Challenge, and I was trying to get a “before” shot. This pose, by the way, is the worst to fall out of. It’s very hard to exit well, which makes it even less appealing to practice. Take a look at my first two attempts: I fell forward out of these, and I fell hard, gracelessly, and pissed off.

pincha_attemptDuring this round, I did make one winning adjustment. I very consciously hardened my belly before hopping up. When I wasn’t locking up my core before I got upright, it was too late when I got there. That seemed to help. Katelyn went next. Naturally, hers was lovely.


I decided to try it like she does it, with her forearms pronated and palms flat. Here we go.


Worse. Katelyn went again. This time she made it fancy.


We flipped through the pictures. Katelyn said, “Look at how far your shoulders are in front of your elbows. That would be really hard to hold up.” She switched to one of her photos. “See how my shoulders are right above my elbows?” Yes, I did. I know all about joint-stacking, but I didn’t know I wasn’t doing it. And I wasn’t sure how to do it.

I set up with my shoulders aligned over my elbows. I said, “I don’t know how to do this.” Katelyn said something like, round your back, lock your shoulders in place, and don’t lose it as you kick up.


This is the best one I’ve ever done. I felt like I wasn’t going to collapse immediately, and I felt like I had more extension and control. I’m still a lot farther forward of my shoulders than I should be. My lack of shoulder mobility is limiting me. Right now I’m sitting in a chair with a mirror next to me. If I raise my arms up beside my ears and bend my elbows, I can’t come close to achieving the angle Katelyn’s got in these pictures. My elbows are 10 degrees or more forward of my shoulders, just like in my pictures. I guess it’s going to take more work to get there. But I’ve got 20 days to go.


This tightness, Katelyn just pointed out, also limits our Wheels. A good stretch for this can be had in Puppy Pose variation with the elbows bent and palms pressed together above the head. Many of us have tight shoulders, so expect a lot of puppy in class this month!