What do you get when you cross a dog with a peacock? In this case, a dolphin! Also known in Sanskrit as ardha pincha mayurasana, dolphin pose is a preparatory yoga posture for a number of inversions.
The pose is essentially downward-facing dog on your forearms. It’s also a setup posture acclimating your arms, shoulders, and upper back for the forearm balance inversion pincha mayurasana, a.k.a. peacock pose. Here’s how it’s done.
How to Perform Dolphin Pose With Perfect Form
1. Start on your hands and knees, placing your knees directly below your hips, and your wrists directly below your shoulders.
2. On an exhale, lower your forearms to the mat, keeping them parallel and aligning your elbows below your shoulders. On an inhale, tuck your toes, and lift your hips toward the ceiling.
3. Keeping your shoulders over your elbows, gently let your head drop, walking your toes slightly forward. Eventually, take your heels farther down toward the mat.
Dolphin Pose Tips and Modifications
- If you have tighter hamstrings, you may have trouble straightening your legs, so maintain a slight bend in your knees. Practice lifting your hips and engaging your thigh muscles.
- Focus on lengthening your spine by lifting your hips while simultaneously reaching your heels toward the floor.
- To deepen the pose, press firmly into the mat to lift your shoulders and hips higher. Some practice lifting one leg at a time to challenge this forearm balance in preparation for the larger inversion.
Benefits of Dolphin Pose
- Builds strength in the arms, shoulders, and back
- Accustoms your shoulders to lifting away from the floor in preparation for inversions
- Creates length in the spine and lower body
- Compared to more complicated inversions like peacock pose, dolphin is a gentler way to incorporate an inversion into your yoga practice, especially as a beginner