How To Master Dolphin Pose

Practicing a headstand or a handstand can bring about a wide range of benefits. But properly executing an upside down position is no easy task. It can take a long time to develop one's skills in order to achieve inversions. They utilize advanced levels of balance, strength, and flexibility. 

For those of us who are not quite ready to perform the perfect inversion, there's Dolphin Pose. 

This posture is also a great alternative to Downward-Facing Dog, as Dolphin is considered a useful variation on this popular pose. Yogis who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist discomfort can practice Dolphin Pose instead as it takes the pressure off those areas and redirects it to the forearms. 

Recommended: Everything You Need To Know About Downward Facing Dog

What Is Dolphin Pose Good For?

Practicing this pose allows you to focus on the arms, shoulders, upper back, and legs by stretching and strengthening these areas of the body. You can expect to gain greater flexibility along the spinal column, the hamstrings, the calves, and your arches. 

Dolphin Pose also provides many of the same benefits as Downward-Facing Dog.

This posture helps to:

  • Relieve sinusitis and menstrual discomfort
  • Relieve headaches and fatigue
  • Relieve mild depression, anxiety, and stress
  • Relieve back pain. 
  • Improve memory and focus
  • Improve digestion (see more yoga poses for digestion)
  • Prevent osteoporosis

Woman practicing dolphin pose outdoors

Is Dolphin Pose Harder Than Downward-Facing Dog?

Dolphin Pose is a variant of Downward Dog. Some feel that Dolphin Pose is tougher than traditional Down Dog because of the concentration placed on the forearms. Both poses have similar qualities about them, with the major difference being the lack of pressure on the wrists with Dolphin Pose. This adjustment helps to protect them from stress. 

Many yogis prefer to use Dolphin Pose as an entry point toward attempting tougher inversion poses because of the benefits for strengthening the arms, shoulders, and upper back. Once you feel comfortable doing Dolphin Pose you can start trying a Forearm Stand and work your way into full inversions from there.

How To Do Dolphin Pose

These simple steps will take you through the process of performing this pose from start to finish. 

  • This is a pose that begins on hands and knees. Be sure to position your wrists so they are fully aligned with your shoulders. Move your knees so they are placed directly beneath the hips.
  • Keep the bend of your wrists at a parallel position with the top of the mat and place your middle fingers so they are pointed directly at that same edge. 
  • Lower the elbows down to the floor, keeping them positioned beneath the shoulders. Maintain both forearms so they remain parallel to one another as well as parallel with the edges along the sides of your mat. Be sure that you are not putting more of your weight on one forearm. Distribute the weight equally across both of them. 
  • Place the toes into a tucked position as you lift your knees away from the mat. Extend your pelvis up so that it reaches the ceiling and pull the sit bones to the wall located behind you. Maintain a bent position at the knees while lengthening the spine and broadening the shoulder blades. 
  • Now you're going to start to straighten both legs. This will allow you to lift the torso and legs into an “A” shape. Maintain the extension of your body, do not walk the feet in towards your hands. You may feel the upper back start to curve and if this happens, bend your knees in order to keep the spine in a straight position. 
  • Bring your shoulder blades in towards the ribs of your upper back and broaden across the collarbones. Align the ears with your upper arms. 
  • Relax the head but don't allow it to drop loose or hang. Keep your gaze focused at the navel or between your legs.
  • Once you're in position, hold it for as little as five breaths and no more than twenty. 
  • Release on an exhale as you slowly bend the knees and return to the mat. 

Man practicing dolphin pose

Final Thoughts

Dolphin Pose can be a healthy and exciting challenge for any seasoned yogi, but like any yoga pose there are certain things to be cautious of before you attempt Dolphin Pose. If you have recently experienced or are currently suffering from any injuries in the arms, back, or neck or if you have an inner ear or eye infection you should refrain from this particular posture. This posture is also not recommended for anyone with high blood pressure. 

As always, never force yourself into a pose that you're not ready to perform. Don't overexert yourself as that can quickly lead to an injury.

Looking for more poses to help you master inversions? Check out our Yoga Poses Blog.

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