I can't always teach Pincha Mayurasana - Feathered Peacock Pose - at the studio because of class size and limited wall space. It's a forearm balance - yes, that means you will be balancing your body weight on your forearms! So you want students who are just learning it to be near the wall for safety and so they won't worry about falling over.
This pose would be practiced in the later part of class, after thoroughly warming up the spine, shoulders, legs, arms and back - without overworking the arms. So, some sun salutations to warm up, but not TOO many Dandasanas or Chaturanga Dandasanas, as you don't want to overly tire the upper body.!
Pincha Mayurasana requires shoulder and arm strength for sure, but equally as much, it requires that the shoulders be nice and open. Many very strong people find it difficult to kick into this pose because their shoulders and upper arm muscles are so tight. Bringing the torso upright, so that the hips come above the shoulders, is key to being able to go up. So, as with most challenging yoga poses -this one requires a balance between strength and flexibility.
This pose also has elements of a backbend - some variations take a scorpion-like shape with a deep back arch, others are more upright like headstand. Either way, it benefits from significantly warming up the back body and stretching the front body before doing. I like to practice it somewhere in between - not too upright and rigid; not too big of back-bendy arch.
I have found that doing a backbend practice first is ideal for working up to Pincha Mayurasana. I begin with a general warm-up practice, then move into various stages of Bridge Pose and Bow Pose and utlimately to Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Facing Bow Pose) before doing this pose. In fact, when I teach this pose to my more advanced classes now, I always pair Urdhva Dhanurasana (first) with Pincha Mayurasana (after).
This is Urdhva Dhanurasana - Upward Facing Bow Pose. This is my "peak" backbend pose before taking Pincha Mayurasana. After this pose, my shoulders are open, spine warmed and fluid, arms and legs stretched and warmed up.
I've done two variations of Pincha Mayurasana here - the first holding a block between my hands and with a strap around my upper arms to help me remember to keep my elbows in line with my shoulders, and then I've done it again without the block
Come into Dolphin Pose (Like Downward Facing Dog Pose but with the forearms down). Hands hold sides of block - note: pinky side down - this helps create an open position of the shoulders. Strap is snug to outer arms - but not too snug. Elbows at the width of the shoulders.
From here, you walk the feet in until the hips are above the shoulders, and then kick up, bringing your feet to the wall.
You need to press the forearms down and lift the shoulders blades up,to keep from collapsing downward. Tailbone stays long; avoid jutting the ribs forward. Here my torso is upright - hips over shoulders. Knees are back of the hips due to the feet being at the wall.
Now I'm practicing without the block. I've kicked up, feet to the wall. Next I practice bringing the feet away from the wall one at a time.
Here I am balancing in the pose in my preferred way - with a long arch that feels comfortable but is not collapsed in the shoulders or compressing the spine. My feet are away from the wall.
Here, I am showing the pose in a more upright position, like headstand. I'm not quite all the way in it here (still bringing the right foot into place) - my patient photographer was getting tired -- and so was I!