This pose, padma mayurasana (lotus peacock) is, of course, super challenging, but it’s defined as one of The Most Important Poses and the most relevant. Why?
It’s easy to think of yoga in the modern world as being something that simply bends and stretches our muscles and joints, but for the stiff-bodied majority, this often ends up being dangerous, because we have been brought up to be competitive. Hence, we may overstretch, over-bend and over-do and then walk away defeated or injured.
Alternatively, we may feel full of pride (which also has nothing to do with yoga).
It’s a shame because, if you think about it, the original practitioners of yoga didn’t need to bend and stretch or even strengthen their “core” muscles since they lived naturally active lives. They could sweep their legs into a lotus position as easily as most of us can fold our arms; in other words, without thinking about it and without using one part of their body to force another.
As a holistic lifestyle practice, “yogasana” was more about staying focussed and calm while massaging the internal organs and facilitating the movement of energy and information (blood, water, lymph, fuel) around the body. It was about keeping the “kunda” area (abdominal area) vital.
So if you look closely at the pose in the image, you’ll see it involves a super-intense abdominal massage. This isn’t possible of course if the abs are too tense or too tight. And as any masseuse knows, you can distinguish a reasonably healthy person from an unhealthy one by the degree with which the body “gives” and how much effort is required. Ideally, we should be able to “dig” in and up sightly behind the rib cage and to bury our hands deep within the belly so that we can almost touch the inner spine.
And thankfully, you don’t need to be able to master this pose to be able to massage your belly as part of your daily routine. But do make sure it’s on an empty stomach!