Pungu Mayurasana (the wounded peacock) is typically found in the Ashtanga Yoga 5th series. Because it requires a great deal of wrist strength to accomplish, I’ve integrated the posture into our advanced level I syllabus. This challenging posture strengthens the arms and chest, improves one’s sense of balance and can also serve as a cool parlor trick if you run out of interesting topics for small talk at a dinner party.
I originally ran across this pose while viewing David Swenson’s Advanced A/B series Ashtanga video. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely check it out. There are some great outtakes of David toppling out of this pose as well as some great footage of western Ashtanga pioneers Helena Berg, Robert Boustany, Lucy Martorella and David Williams demonstrating all of the poses in the what is now generally referred to as the Ashtanga 5th and 6th series.
Practice tip: In the full expression of the pose, the legs are drawn together. However, when you first begin to learn this posture, you will often find it easier to balance if you begin with the feet placed on the floor four to five feet apart. Once you can balance on one hand with your legs apart like this, you can then practice taking them together to complete the pose.
To enter the wounded peacock, make sure that the fingers on the weight bearing hand are turned out. Keep your feet on the floor while you balance your weight on your elbow, then extend the non weight bearing arm outward and forward and allow your fingertips to rest on the floor until you get the legs off of the ground. Once you’ve gotten to that point, lift the front arm off of the ground to complete the pose.
You’ll definitely crash and burn while learning this one, so be sure to practice on a soft surface!
What’s your favorite arm-balance?