There's something magical about this pose, especially for the split second I can hold it away from the wall. It's exhilarating a feeling of poise and equilibrium that makes me long for more. It's like the blissful moments I had this summer while swimming, surrendering to the lake, letting go and trusting the water to carry me. This feeling of being carried is what I glimpse in the Peacock Feather.
The pose looks and feels so light and beautiful, yet demands such effort and intensity to achieve. The real work is to prepare the base. I have to build up enough strength in my arms to depend on them to hold me upside down with my face inches from the ground. This means engaging muscles I don't often use the ones that keep my wrists and forearms moving toward the floor and the back of my upper arms active. I also need focus and to mentally agree to the risk before entering the pose.
The joy is in finding the magical space of suspension between worlds. As a child, I would jump from high places, enduring the thud back to earth for the freedom of flight on the way down. In the Peacock Feather, sheer effort is paid off with an astonishing sense of lightness, of being held in time and space by something invisible. Letting go allows me to lift off. Trusting, I find balance.
Anytime I am able to let go in my daily life - of an old concept or a limited way of thinking I have to trust there is something beyond my limitations and current fears. Letting go means taking a risk, overcoming a desire to be safe or to know what will happen next. A leaping into the unknown. For me, the groundwork starts in my mind by thinking things through as far as I can. When I break through a mental limitation, whether the outside action or manifestation is successful or not, the interior process is exhilarating. It loosens me and creates receptivity. Practising renunciation is like learning to fly. I first have to think that it's possible and then dare to trust the Divine.
As I practise the Peacock Feather, I prepare, go up, hold it for a second, come down, rest. I want to go up again. There's an allure to almost getting it. I desire to be light as a feather. I am intrigued by the possibility of equilibrium, the space of suspending mental chatter, the silence of no thought between breaths. It's like discovering a place that has always been there, prepared, and all I have to do is move into it. Having been there once, or even been close, it calls me to return again because it feels light and easy and right.
In Eastern mythology, the peacock is the vehicle of gods and goddesses. Krishna wears peacock feathers in his hair. Practising the Peacock Feather, I am touched by Divine beauty, encouraged to lighten up and take the leap into trust.
How to do the Peacock Feather (Pincha Mayurasana)
If you can do the Headstand, you have a good foundation for the Peacock Feather. If not, it's best to work with a teacher on this pose.
Warm up for this pose with the Swinging Dog to develop arm strength:
Kneeling, clasp your hands together and place the forearms on the mat, shoulder width apart. Tuck the toes under and lift your hips toward the ceiling, as you would for the Downward-Facing Dog pose. Then, using the strength in your arms for support, move the body forward, bringing your forehead close to the floor above your clasped hands. Return to the starting position and alternate slowly between the two. Rest in the Child's pose.
- Double up your mat and arrange it against a wall. Kneeling, place the hands and forearms on the mat, fingertips about 4 to 6 inches from the wall. Forearms should be shoulder width apart and parallel to each other. Spread the fingers wide. Roll the inner wrists and forearms down toward the floor and activate the muscles in the upper arms. Establish this firm sense of connection to the ground and a sense of engaging your own strength.
- Lift your head so that your face is parallel to the floor. Raise your hips up into a Downward-Facing Dog position and begin walking the legs toward your head and arms. Gather some momentum, think light, and lift the legs over the head, touching the feet to the wall behind you. Keep a long smooth curve in the back, firming the muscles through the abdomen, buttocks and thighs. Hold the pose, breathing and observing. Once you are secure in this position, you can try finding that elusive point of balance by taking the feet off the wall.
- Bring to mind a peacock feather. Write your associations words, thoughts, images. Take one of your associations into the pose and observe your physical and emotional responses. What do these observations tell you about yourself?
- In Christianity, the peacock feather symbolizes the beauty and glory of heaven. Do the pose, asking yourself, How do I get in touch with that beauty and glory?
- As you come up into the Peacock Feather, ask: What does it take for me to make a leap of faith?