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Your Fierce Face Yoga Pose Breakdown on Arm Balances and Inversions

Fierce face yoga pose is an arm balance and an inversion.

It is an advanced asana that asks a lot of the low back, and thorasic spine. It isn’t recommended if you have neck or shoulder injuries. 
Peacock pose or swan pose are great alternatives to fierce face and offer ways to build strength and perseverance.  

This article outlines the modifications of the fierce face yoga pose, including tips on how to get into it. It also includes classes and a progressive yoga series to aid your practice as you develop more confidence and strength!

About Fierce Face Yoga Pose:

To enter this pose, you can set your sternum on the ground with your chin OR place your chest on a yoga block.

How to do Fierce Face Pose: 

  • Set your arms out in front of you as if you were to take a chaturanga.

  • Place your chin and sternum on the ground, OR use a block to support your chest. 

  • With legs behind you, reach one leg toward the sky and bend the knee.

  • Kick the other leg up to join it, and turn the knee so that the toes are by the head.

Take a peacock pose or swan pose.
Use props to support your practice with a block under your sternum. 

Progress to Fierce Face:
Swan/Peacock, Dolphin Plank, Sphynx. 

Body Parts Targeted:
Wrists, chest, arms, core, inner thighs. 

Muscles to strengthen: 
Core, arms, back body. 

Muscles to stretch:
Chest, quadriceps, psoas, and backbends are great ways to do this. 

Practice fierce face yoga pose – Clarity Vinyasa Yoga

Learn more about the bandhas in this blog post.

About Swan Yoga Pose:

The swan pose is similar to the peacock pose and is a progression to this style of arm balance. 

How to do Swan Pose:

  • Take your arms out in front of you shoulder-width.

  • Bring your elbows toward your rib cage to rest your ribs on your triceps.

  • Knees are wide; claw the mat with the fingerpads.

  • Try to lift your knees and perhaps your feet.

  • Engage Mula Bandha (root lock) to support the shape.

From the Fierce Face Yoga Pose Breakdown:

Review the lecture with Clara Roberts-Oss

What I’d love to do is I’d like to break down fierce face yoga pose.

Things to think about when coming into fierce face:

If you’re dealing with neck and shoulder sensitivity or chin stuff, there is a better pose for you. The modification is what we did in class today, which is called Swan Pose. 

Just stay curious. With these kinds of arm balances, try to stay open and curious about everything. 

How to Get Into Fierce Face Yoga Pose:

See how my chin never comes down to the ground.

No weight goes into my neck. You want to hug the belly button to activate the core. 

Traditionally, with fierce face, your sternum and breastbones are on the ground, your chins on the earth, and then your legs go out behind you. With legs out behind you, you’re going to reach one leg up towards the sky and bend the knee. One foot comes towards the head, and then you’re going to kick the other leg up and try to bring the other leg to join it.

The kicking part is a bit precarious, so I teach this pose sparingly. However, it’s fun to explore occasionally, so that’s what we’re doing here. 

I’m pressing my chin down into the ground to ensure I’m activating my neck versus collapsing down into it. 

You’ll see how it goes in your own body. We’re all proportioned super differently.

Use Props!

Let’s see if I can do it by resting my sternum and breastbone on the block. 

Ideally, it’s a thicker block than this—one of the regular-sized blocks. You’d put your chest on it and come forward. So my hands are further back. I’m leaning into it and resting my chest so my chin is barely on the ground. So, most of the weight rests on my arms and then the block.

Poses to Prepare Your Body for Fierce Face Yoga Pose: 

Fierce face is a very deep backbend, so I need thoracic opening.

I need to open up in my chest, I need to open up quadriceps and psoas, muscles, hip flexor muscles.

We did a lot of variations of chaturanga and arm strengthening to warm up. 

We did the dolphin plank, and we also did the sphinx pose. Sphinx is another modification, so it’s another way to come into this pose if you’re dealing with wrist stuff. 

Be mindful of your lower back.

Keep drawing the shoulders onto the back and then lift the chest, head towards the toes, and toes towards the head. This is the shape in a different plane. 

Especially with peak or advanced poses, there’s always a more fundamental way of doing the pose.

Look at the pose and consider how you can create the same shape on a different plane instead of thinking about what you can’t do. 

How To Get Into Swan Pose:

Swan pose is like Peacock: it’s the next iteration of these arm balances. 

If you take your arms out in front of you, fingertips pretty close and towards each other, thumbs are a couple of inches away from each other, fingers facing forward. Then you’re going to lift your hips, bend your elbows, and bring your elbows; essentially, you’re going to bring your elbows towards your ribcage to rest your ribs on top of your triceps, and then you’re going to draw yourself forward, really clawing the mat with your finger pads. Knees are wide, and then you’ll explore lifting the knees and the feet up off the ground. And sometimes it’s easier to lift just the feet or knees.

See how it goes in your own body.

Seraphina Dawn

Seraphina has a BA in Literature from Simone Fraser University and participated in the Creative Writing Program at UC Berkeley. She is a Kundalini teacher, writer, and poet. She admires Clarice Lispector’s prose, Octavia Butler’s fiction, and Simone Weil's philosophy. Seraphina currently lives in Istanbul. 


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