Which tribe do you claim? The “tight shoulders” tribe or the “my shoulders are loosely attached” tribe? Believe it or not, both tribes have their challenges, especially with this week’s PowerPose Pīncha Mayūrāsana Prep or Dolphin pose.
I’m a card carrying member of the “tight shoulders” tribe. Years of tension reside in my shoulders, making binds and backbends nice and challenging. This pose has helped me to whittle away at some of that tightness, but it’s taken time. Opening the shoulders with the use of body weight can be a really effective tool. It allows you to create opening while preserving the strength and structure of the body
On the opposite spectrum, those who are part of the “my shoulders are loosely attached tribe”, will have plenty of challenge of their own. In order to practice this pose safely, structure and strength need to be cultivated. Bearing weight on a shoulder joint that is too mobile can cause injury and strain. Using the core, particularly the seratus (side body muscles) and engaging all of the muscles that surround the shoulder blades will fortify this pose.
Try these variations of Pīncha Mayūrāsana Prep
Option 1 – Clasped Hands and Soft Knees. Take the arms to the mat with the elbows shoulder width. Pressing into the blade edge of the arm, clasp the hands like you would for Śīrṣāsana. Press the arms and hands into the mat, shrug the shoulders away from the ears, and tone the belly toward the spine. With bent knees, press the tailbone high and begin to walk the feet toward the elbows. Soften the heart toward the toes and hug through the armpits. The neck stays long and loose as you position the ears between the biceps.
Option 2 – Hands Around a Block and Straight Legs. With the hands and elbows shoulder width, place a block between the hands. Press the “L” shape of the pointer finger and thumb around the block. Simultaneously, press the hands and forearms into the floor. As the hamstrings allow, straighten the legs, but do not sacrifice the height of the hips or the length of the back. Keep the heels heavy and reaching toward the floor.
Option 3 – Hands Flush. Remove the block, but keep the hands flush to the mat. As you press the hands and forearms into the mat, imagine that you could spiral the muscles of your forearms from your elbow to your thumb. Make sure the “meaty” part of the hand between the thumb and pointer finger is making contact with the mat. Reach the shoulder blades toward the hips as you hug the armpits. Reach the crown of the head in between the hands.
Option 4 – 3-Legged Dolphin. Keeping the pressure of the hands and forearms, and the shoulders away from the ears, lift one leg. Keep the hips level and notice the change in weight distribution in the arms and shoulders. Take several breaths. For more challenge, scoop the belly, lift the bottom heel and shift the shoulders forward. Repeat on the other side.
If you find this pose challenging either because you are creating mobility or because you are creating stability, try to revisit it regularly in your practice. Anytime you are in Adho Mukha Svananasa or Down Dog for five or more breaths, release your elbows the the floor and practice Pīncha Mayūrāsana Prep instead. With regular practice you should be able to make progress.
However you decide to practice be sure to work at a level where you are challenged, but also where you are keeping your body safe from injury. Follow this #PowerPose challenge @suzannewrightyoga on Instagram or at Suzanne Wright Yoga on Facebook. If you post your pictures or about your experience be sure to tag #PowerPose and @suzannewrightyoga.