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Mayurasana- Peacock Pose
Categories: Yoga

(my-yer-ahs-anna)
mayura = peacock

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

One of the best detoxifying poses is Mayurasana. This pose is one of the first 15 asanas ever to be written down. The first Yogis practicing asana understood its tremendous health benefits.

Here’s what Svatmarama wrote about mayurasana in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika:
“Mayurasana quickly alleviates all diseases like enlargement of the glands, dropsy (edema) and other stomach disorders. It rectifies imbalance of the humours (vata, pitta and kapha). It reduces to ashes all food taken indiscriminately, kindles the gastric fire and enables destruction of kalakuta (toxins). “– HYP 1.31

This pose is named Peacock not only because of the shape of the pose, but because its strong, tonifying effect on the digestive system. Do mayurasana and you can have a stomach like a peacock’s…

That probably doesn’t mean much to those of us in the west haven’t spent much time observing peacocks, but did you know that peacocks can eat a wide range of foods including poisonous snakes, insects and scorpions and that they are able to digest the poison of these animals without harm? I’m not suggesting practicing this pose should inspire you to partake in a peacock’s dietary habits – but it will help you improve your digestion.

Benefits of Mayurasana
•    Powerful digestive tonic
•    Promotes elimination of toxins, especially from the liver
•    Invigorates the entire body
•    Increases blood circulation throughout the abdominal organs
•    Relieves many digestive ailments
•    Massages and strengthens the stomach and spleen
•    Beneficial to those with diabetes
•    Revitalizes the pancreas
•    Relieves menstrual disorders and painful menstruation
•    Tones and supports the reproductive organs and sexual function
•    Decreases acidity in the blood, especially when performed in the morning
•    Strengthens wrists, elbows and shoulders

Contraindications
Any powerful yoga practice should be used with respect. If you have wrist, elbow or shoulder issues, be very careful about placing your entire body weight in your wrists. Some other common sense contraindications include: pregnancy, menstruation and serious intestinal problems. It also should be avoided if you are dealing with an ulcer, hernia, heart disease, high blood pressure, brain tumors and ear, eye, or nose infections. Because this pose is deeply detoxifying and can release built up toxins into the system, notice if you don’t feel well after practicing it. Reduce the amount of time and the repetitions of this pose and work on cleansing through diet before building up to longer holds.

Instructions:

Kneel on the ground with your knees spread as wide as your sticky mat.

Bring your forearms together and place your hands, palm down, on the mat with the little finger side of the hands towards each other so that the fingers turn back in the direction of your feet. (Experiment in your pose with the spacing between the hands, from the little fingers touch to the hands a few inches apart.)

Squeeze your elbows in towards each other and place your abdomen on your upper arms with your elbows situated at or just below your navel. (Women with large breasts will have some trouble adjusting for this one, some rearranging and humor is required.)

Look forwards and begin to shift your weight from your legs into your arms. At first keep your knees bending out to the sides. With time as you gain balance and strength you will be able to straighten your legs behind you and hold them above the ground. (Another variation is to fold the legs into padmasana or full lotus pose.)

Hold as long as you can maintaining a steady breath. If you are unable to breath then practice keeping your legs on the floor, gradually taking more weight into the arms and pressure into the abdomen. Once you can hold the posture calmly and breathe easily, hold for 10-30 breaths at a time.

Preparations for the Mayurasana
For the wrists:
Extend one arm forwards and with your other hand pull your fingers towards the floor so that the top side of your wrist joint opens, hold for five breaths. Then pull your hand and fingers back so that the underside of your wrist opens and the top side is compressed. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.

Extend one arm forwards with the thumb side of your hand upwards, bring your thumb down into your palm and wrap your four fingers around the thumb to make a fist. Keeping the thumb side of your hand upwards, bring to tilt your hand down towards the floor. You’ll feel a stretch on the inside of your right wrist, be conservative, this connective issue shouldn’t be overstretched. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the left side.

For the arms:
Bring your palms together with your thumbs touching your forehead, squeeze your forearms and elbows together. Without tensing the shoulders or neck begin to move your forearms away from the face but keep the forearms and elbows squeezing together. Practice this movement while standing or kneeling and be mindful to keep your belly and your back organized, resist jutting the ribs forward and collapsing the mid-back.

To strengthen the back, legs and torso practice Salabhasana
To reduce abdominal discomfort and tone the digestive organs practice Nauli Kriya
Approaching the full pose of Mayurasana it can be helpful in developing the arm and wrist rotation to practice downward facing dog and upward facing dog with the hands turned backwards.

(Here’s Julian practicing Mayurasana with his legs in Padmasana. If you can fold your legs into lotus, the weight of the legs is contained and easier to lift from the ground!)

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