How to Do Dolphin Pose in Yoga

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.

Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana): Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Start on your hands and knees, placing your knees directly below your hips, and your wrists directly below your shoulders.
  • On an exhale, lower your forearms to the mat, keeping them parallel and aligning your elbows under your shoulders. On an inhale, tuck your toes, and lift your hips toward the ceiling.
  • 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.