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Dolphin Pose


Yoga Posture - Dolphin Pose

Nope, it's not Down Dog, but Dolphin Pose is a heck of a pose!

There's no doubt that Dolphin looks very much like Downward Facing Dog. However, Dolphin would be considered by most yogis to be a bit more difficult. It's safe to say that most students wouldn't consider this posture to be a resting pose. Chances are you will be surprised by the physical challenge of Dolphin Pose. The major difference between the poses is that Dolphin is practiced on the forearms.

This pose is commonly used as a preparation posture for more challenging inversions. Dolphin is great for building strength in the shoulders, arms and upper back, this allows a yogi to get better prepared for postures like Forearm Stand. Some students may also prefer Dolphin as opposed to Down Dog since it protects the wrists from strain.

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana is the Sanskrit name for this posture. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, "Ardha" meaning "Half", "Pincha" meaning "Feathers", "Mayura" meaning "Peacock" and "Asana" meaning "Pose". Forearm Stand is called Pincha Mayurasana, so Dolphin could be called "Half of a Forearm Stand" as it resembles Forearm Stand before lifting off the ground. You may come across some yogis who have been trained to refer to this pose as Puppy Pose.

If you're ready for an awesome intermediate level pose with plenty of benefits and challenges, then Dolphin Pose awaits.



Benefits Of The Pose:

Naturally, Dolphin Pose helps to provide great benefits for the upper body. These benefits include but are not limited to, strengthening the arms, shoulders, and upper back. The pose also provides a stretch for the shoulders and can help increase spine flexibility. Yes, this posture is a boost for the upper body, but the legs also benefit as the hamstrings and calves experience a nice stretch as well.

Since this pose gets your heart above your head, it also offers the many wonderful benefits of inversions. Inversions are a goal mine of health benefits including a reversal of blood flow which provides fresh blood and oxygen to the brain and other vital body organs. This increased blood flow to the brain can help with focus and concentration.

Other benefits of Dolphin can include an improvement in digestion, help with headaches, possible relief from back pain and perhaps even relief from menopause and menstrual discomfort.

As mentioned earlier, this posture can be a big asset in preparation for more difficult inversions and arm balances. The pose allows a yogi to test the waters before deciding to move forward with going upside down. Being inverted can be a strange feeling, Dolphin Pose can help prep a student for these more challenging inversion postures and help build the strength needed to pursue them.

Primary Benefits:

Stretches Hamstrings

Opens The Shoulders

Strengthens The Arms

Strengthens The Core

Provides Inversion Benefits




Prep & Follow Up Poses:

Some obvious preparatory postures for this pose would include Plank Pose and Forearm Plank Pose, these poses can help develop the strength needed for Dolphin Pose. Other prep postures would include Standing Forward Bend Pose and Cow Face Pose.

Follow up poses would include Locust Pose and Child's Pose can provide a nice rest after the physical challenge of Dolphin. It's also common to transition from Dolphin into an arm balance like Forearm Stand Pose or transition back to Forearm Plank Pose.


Modifications & Cautions:

Dolphin Pose can provide quite the challenge, but if you're looking for a little more difficulty, try walking your feet a little more forward in the posture. You may also place your hands together and create a bigger opening for the shoulders.

You may also add difficulty by transitioning back and forth between Dolphin and Downward Dog by lifting off your forearms and onto your hands, then repeating the transition. You could also try transitioning between Dolphin and Forearm Plank by walking the feet forward and back.

Practice lifting a foot off the ground, especially if you wish to practice Forearm Stand.

Avoid this posture if you suffer from a neck, shoulder, arm or back injury. High blood pressure is another good reason to avoid practicing this pose.

As always, get a doctor's approval and make sure to fully recover from any injury before returning to your practice.


Major Tips:

Remember, your heels don't need to touch the ground. Don't force it.

You may find it to be more comfortable if you place a towel underneath the forearms.

Make sure to prevent your back from dropping, keep a flat back.

Protect your neck from strain, don't allow your gaze to look forward.

Use your core to help maintain the posture, try to prevent all the force from resting on your arms.

If you have tight hamstrings, bend the knees to protect them from strain.

If needed, place a pillow or blanket under the forehead to prevent straining the neck.

If your arms want to move together, use a block between them to help with alignment.




Step-By-Step Instructions:

We will start in table top position on our hands and knees.

Place your wrists under your shoulders and your knees should be under your hips. Your fingers should be spread and pointing forward.

Slowly place your elbows onto the mat, keep your arms parallel to one another and the outer edge of your yoga mat.

When ready, tuck your toes and gently lift your knees off the ground and raise your hips toward the sky. Your knees should still be bent at this point.

Keep your back flat and don't let your chest drop toward the ground.

Slowly start to straighten your legs, be careful to mind your hamstrings.

Position your body into the shape of an upside down "V". Spread your shoulders across your upper back and keep the back flat without rounding.

Keep your gaze between your legs and use a pillow to support your head and neck if needed.

Keep your arms parallel and don't allow them to slide closer to one another.

Lower into Child's Pose for rest when needed.

Hold the pose for about 5-10 breaths.

Exhale as you release the pose, bend the knees and drop into Child's Pose to rest.

As your practice and strength advance, you may decide to transition from Dolphin Pose into other postures instead of a resting posture.