Strengthen Your “Shelf” For Mayurasana

Strengthen Your “Shelf” for Mayurasana

How to Prepare for This Unique Arm Balance

DELTOIDS

STRENGTHEN YOUR “SHELF” FOR MAYURASANA

Let’s note that muscle groups do not work in isolation: The activation of accessory muscles, although not necessarily the focal point, are an integral part of the execution of a posture. In Mayurasana, the anterior deltoids and rotator cuff muscles may not be part of your first thoughts regarding how to execute this posture, but without considering the role they play, we simply will not be able to create the “shelf” required to create the balance we need in this posture. There is obvious core activation, not to mention strength and activation in the glutes and hamstrings, but the shelf Matt refers to in this class is the ability to hug the elbows in as tightly as possible so as to create an anchor for the pose. The anterior deltoids and rotator cuff muscles offer support, stability, and strength in Mayurasana.

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    BLOCK SQUEEZE DRILL

    In terms of teaching Mayurasana, Matt notes that it’s not an easy pose to sequence towards. Not many other postures mimic the mandatory actions, but there are certainly creative movements and drills we can incorporate into our practice in order to cultivate the inescapable strength required for Mayurasana. Of course, Matt demonstrates the actions we can take to strengthen the appropriate muscle groups. Included in this preparation, in particular for the shelf in Mayurasana, are the biceps, pectoralis muscles, anterior deltoids, and rotator cuff.

    Today’s video starts off with a “block squeeze” drill. The block is squeezed between the forearms with bent elbows, while the arms are externally rotated. Our palms are facing forward, and the upper back is rounded while we “sit” in a Chair Pose position. The pectoralis muscles are engaged, but it’s the external rotation that helps us target the rotator cuff muscles.

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    STRENGTHEN YOUR “SHELF” FOR MAYURASANA: HOW TO PREPARE FOR THIS UNIQUE ARM BALANCE

    MAYURASANA AT THE WALL AND ON YOUR BACK

    Mayurasana at the Wall

    Here, we can practice mimicking what we did in the block drill—squeezing our elbows in towards each other. In addition, the feeling of “trying to pull the wall up” turns on the pectoralis major, the anterior deltoids, and the biceps. We can’t lift our legs here, but we can practice the sensation of pulling our feet back to activate the glutes and hamstrings.

    Mayurasana on Your Back

    By pressing our feet into the ground in this variation, we can get more feedback and activation of the glutes and hamstrings. In the upper body, we practice the shape by rounding the back and placing our arms as if to set up the shelf on top of the rib cage. 

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    MAYURASANA “MASTERY”

    In the full class, Matt reminds us that creating the shelf with our arms doesn’t mean that we are resting on top of them. What we’re actually doing is setting up a strong base, our negotiating point for balance. To achieve the final expression of the posture, it’s the angle of the bend at the elbows, the grip of the ground with the fingers, and the strength in the shoulders and upper body that allow us to shift and find the sweet spot that supports the lift of the legs. In today’s video, you’ll see how Matt shifts his weight back and forth before he locks in to the next step, where he finds authentic balance and uses the strength of the core, glutes, and hamstrings to lift his legs. The trust in the foundation that’s been created allows for this masterful execution of Mayurasana.

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    KEY ACTIONS IN THIS ARM BALANCE

    Here are the 2 key actions Matt outlines for Mayurasana (we’ll find them in most arm balance postures):

    1. Bending the elbows at an open angle (helps to stop us from falling)
    2. Intentionally leaning forward while trying to stop at the same time

    For Mayurasana, more than building strength in the shoulders, biceps, core, glutes, and hamstrings, it’s about how to be very intentional in the drills we implement in our yoga practice. The only way to become masterful is to be informed and guided through drills like these and, of course, to practice the posture itself.

    In Matt’s upcoming 3-part series, Shoulder Mastery, he’ll delve into more about shoulder strength for arm balances, along with a deeper understanding of the shoulders when it comes to inversions, binds, and even releasing the neck.

    Strength without action offers no direction. Register for the workshop series today!

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    Article by Trish Curling

    Videos Extracted From: Anatomy of Arm Balances

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