It is a stunning moment when a peacock causes his feathers to lift up behind his small body, like a grand fan they spread outwards and upwards in an impressive semi-circle. Another remarkable feature of the displayed feathers is that they are ‘deployed’ into position by muscles in the peacock’s tail. He also makes them vibrate and produce a characteristic hum. Once his feathers are on display he struts about with the demeanor of a warrior, a lover, or noble king confidently searching for his queen. He appears to eagerly enjoy being the center of attention drinking in the awe and delight in the eyes of those (especially the ladies) who are fortunate enough to catch the show.
But imagine a shy peacock who would flush red with embarrassment at the thought of boldly and proudly displaying his feathers. And unfortunately, there is an all or nothing aspect to it, the effect is lost if he tentatively or self-consciously lifts up and spreads out his wares. He must be confident and bold if he wants to properly use the equipment that the creator gave him. Indeed getting a mate depends upon him exploiting this primary resource to the fullest. Since the precise purpose of those feathers is to draw as much attention to him as possible, he must not remain shy or try to be inconspicuous.
But he must walk a razor’s edge with his ego. He could view the whole matter shallowly as though beauty were only a matter of plumage and strut. Then he would merely lift up his feathers in vain, as if only to say look at me, me, me because it’s all about me, me, me. But clearly this attitude will send out the wrong signal, and cause him to fail in achieving his purpose. Authentic beauty requires more than ego expression.
The peacock expressing himself in his own original way with full confidence is automatically attractive, no need for an extra push from the ego. No matter what he physically looks like he will be beautiful when he expresses himself from an honest, natural place within. A charisma, an energetic magnetism, a spell casting charm will emerge.
And our predicament is the shy peacock’s predicament. We are shy about expressing ourselves where shyness does not belong and must be overcome. We are self-conscious where remaining self-conscious is not an option if we want a spiritual life. Boldness and confidence are what we must tap if we want to grow and attract the people, experiences, and circumstances that are worth attracting.
This means that each of us must continually take our turn at being the butt of the ongoing cosmic joke. We must enjoy being the recipient of the proverbial “pie in the face’. Playing the role requires putting ourselves in uncomfortable circumstances where we must leap, risk, feel foolish or awkward, dumb or incompetent while on display. And though it appears playing this role remains a life-long condition for learning and growth, skill in self-expression does come, we do learn to show our plumage in all its glory, to strut our stuff, to find what is within us that we are meant to give voice to and to share.
This posture gets its name because the peacock is known to kill and eat poisonous snakes without coming to harm. And similarly the action of pushing your elbows up into your belly neutralizes harmful toxins within the body and thus this posture is an excellent cleanser, it promotes healthy digestion.
This video tutorial gives instructions on 3 phases of working on Mayurasna:
1) set up
2) lowering into position
3) staying in position.
The set up involves establishing a sound; reverse-handed Plank position. When lowering into the position you must bent your elbows with control, going slowly while keeping your tail-anchored and your belly strongly lifted in Uddhyana Bandha. Patience and control are required once you lower your body onto your elbows.
You want to continue to shift your weight forward and let the legs become light and lift up without you having to kick them up. Instead of trying to kick up you can lift one leg up at a time.
Work to lift the leg up and away while keeping your chest and head forward. Once you clear your feet and can balance, enjoy and prolong that moment no matter how short it may be.
Watch this AK video if you want to learn how to effectively approach the problem of lifting your legs off the ground in Mayurasana (Peacock Posture).
The most difficult part of doing this fun, challenging second series posture is getting your weight far enough forward to clear your feet off the ground. Be patient in your efforts to reach this goal to ensure that you get the strengthening and cleansing benefits of the posture. If you have an intelligent strategy these benefits can found at each step along the way to mastery, not just in the ‘final’ position.
Stepping your feet onto a block in the position enables you to work to get forward with your elbows pressing up into your belly and your legs charging with vitality and reaching back in extension. If you work diligently to lift one leg at a time off of the block eventually you will come into a delicate balance position with the weight of your body supported by your arm/belly connection.