No matter how good you are at yoga, there will always be times when you want to up your game. Dolphin pose is one of the best ways to challenge your body and your mind, and it can be done anywhere, anytime, and even in the middle of the day. It’s a great way to get in those deep stretches you may have missed in your regular practice, and a great way to open up your body and shake things up. Here’s how to do this pose:

The humble dolphin pose can help you build both strength and flexibility, especially when you regularly practice yoga. This pose is known as Dolphin Pose because if you lie on your back, put your hands behind your hips and lift your legs up, you look like a dolphin swimming in the water. This is a great pose to strengthen your arms and legs, but it also opens the chest and shoulders, which is why it is recommended for those who want to build flexibility in their back and shoulders.

The dolphin pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana is a challenging pose that strengthens the shoulders and core and further opens the shoulders, chest and hamstrings. He teaches the practitioner the importance of pushing on the mat to create an upward rotation of the shoulders and pulling the upper hips back to lengthen the spine.

This is an excellent preparatory posture for the forearm pose (Pincha Mayurasana), but on its own it does wonders for the development of strength, openness and breathing.

Warming up the body

It goes without saying that any major pose should only be performed after a sufficient warm-up to spare the body and reduce the risk of injury.

Start with 5-7 sets of Cow and Cat to mobilize the spine. Make sure your hands are firmly on the ground and activate your shoulders.

Continue the cat-cow motion, concentrating on actively compressing the bones of your upper hand to stimulate your chest muscles. Most importantly, learn the act of adduction, which involves engaging the anterior tooth muscle (also known as midline embrace). Adduction of the hand can become more difficult when the knees come out of the mat, for example. For example, in the high plank or downward dog pose.

Continue with 3-5 rounds of the sun salutation of your choice, with variations to suit you. Concentrate on stretching your arms when you are in the high plank or downward dog position.

Shoulder awareness

When breeding dolphins, the shoulders work in two main directions: The shoulder blades are pulled back and the shoulders are turned upwards (with active adduction of the arm).

Practice this short sequence to connect with these actions:


Spread your shoulder blades from your back and push your arms down hard, extending your hands fully.

Tiger pose

Raise the right leg and bring the knee to the nose, lift the hip to the heart. Squeeze your arms together to stretch your shoulder blades.

Crescent Lung

Step forward with your right foot into a half-moon lunge and raise both arms above your head. Rotate the shoulders so that the baby’s fingers face each other, then lift the hands up forcefully. The shoulder blades are extended and the shoulders are raised.

Warrior II with Eagle Arms

Turnaround with transition to Warrior II. Find the eagle’s hands with the left elbow down. The shoulder blades are wide again. Press your hands together and spread them apart at the same time (adduction and abduction of your hands).

reverse warrior

When you release the eagle hands, place your left hand on your back leg and reach up and back with your right hand. Turn your top hand as if you were turning your pinky finger to the ground.

Hamstring mobility improvement

Because the dolphin pose requires shoulder strength, it also requires space at the back of the body to fold the hips over the shoulders without pushing the shoulders in front of the elbows.

From the thumb toe pose (Padangusthasana) to the standing lunge and half lunge pose (Ardha Hanumanasana), these poses are designed to create length in the back of the legs and encourage the body to lean forward. As for the tuck, think about moving from the front of your belly to the front of your thighs (hips).

When you are stretched at the back of your body, you should bend your knees so that there is little space between your heart and your thighs. This maintains the optimal length of the lumbar spine and also promotes the activation of the deep muscles.

Make sure you don’t twist your back when you bend over, but that you move your armpits away from your pelvis with each breath. As you exhale, pull the top of your head toward (and behind) the top of your feet.

Forearm and torso bar

When lying down, bring your elbows up and place them under your shoulders. Place your hands shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers. Keeping your feet hip-width apart, bend your toes under you, straighten your knees. Inhale firmly through the navel and pull the pelvis up off the floor toward the shoulder line as you exhale.

Concentrate on keeping your elbows in the center line, as they can become separated, especially if you are tense in your shoulders. Cross your hand over your neck and look between your thumbs or index fingers. With each exhalation, contract the belly and lift the navel to the spine.

Tip: If you can’t wrap your forearms around the center line, grab a block, turn your wrists out so your palms face the block, and squeeze the block with your palms.

Dolphin Conservation

One way to do the dolphin pose is to go into a forearm plank position (see above).

Bring the inner feet toward each other, pressing the feet together to form a center line. Inhale to prepare, and as you exhale, begin to push your legs forward to your elbows so that your pelvis begins to lift to the roof of your mouth. You will use your shoulder, back and core muscles to stabilize your posture.

Be careful:

  • Actively push your forearms toward your midline (see the forearm plank pose tip if your shoulder is tight).
  • Press the forearms to the floor, which is considered an upward shoulder rotation with this setup on the floor.
  • Move your belly toward your hips and push your thighs back to lengthen your spine, especially your lumbar spine.
  • When training the hamstrings, keep the knees bent.
  • Let your head hang down relaxed and keep your neck soft and long.

Counting and closing

Since the emphasis was on strengthening the front of the body, we can begin with gentle, moderate back bends – Cobra Pose, Locust Pose, Bridge Pose, etc. – begin to restore balance to the body. Think of postures that expand the space in the chest and lengthen the abdomen.

Since the hips are in a neutral position for the most part, it doesn’t hurt to turn them outward a bit, like in the pigeon pose and the pendulum pose.

Create an anchoring quality in these last postures by slowing the breathing and extending the resting time if possible. Finish with Savasana.

Photo credits: Anya

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get better at Dolphin pose?


How do you master the dolphin pose?

The dolphin pose is a yoga pose that requires flexibility and balance. It is also a great way to stretch the back, shoulders, and chest.

Is Dolphin pose harder than downward dog?

Dolphin pose is harder than downward dog.

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