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How to practice Dolphin Pose

How do you feel about Dolphin pose? People usually love it or hate it! But it is a fantastic pose that prepares the body for bigger movements and feels better the more you practice it. Set it up well to strike a balance between effort and ease:

Set up:

  1. Start in quadruped / all fours/table

  2. Position your feet in the back quarter of the mat.

  3. Organize elbows about shoulder-width apart

  4. Place palms down or clasp hands for better stability

  5. Let your head HANG in between your biceps — no need to jut the chin forward

  6. Lift your front ribs and breathe into the back body

  7. Hoist your pelvis up

  8. Allow knees to bend, especially if it is a big stretchy tug -

  9. Relax your head and neck again - re-commit to hugging in the front ribs. Breathe here and hold for 5-10 breaths.

Why clients love it:

  1. Stretches the entire back line — calves, hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles and gives light traction to the neck.

  2. Strengthens shoulders, especially when you add perturbations with the additions listed below

  3. Prepares for really fun inversions like forearm stand

  4. Allos for fun and interesting transitions throughout an asana practice


  1. One-legged dolphin: lift one leg up, circle the hip, pull the knee in, etc.

  2. One-armed dolphin: walk feet mat-width apart, reach your left hand out to the side for a fingertip touch, to hold the shin, opposite shoulder blade, etc.

  3. Use a wall to practice forearm stand prep


  1. Stay in quadruped/table

  2. In quadruped/tabletop, lower only the right elbow on the floor (keep the left hand on the floor). Breathe here for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

  3. Practice downward facing dog pose instead

  4. Sometimes dolphin is the modification for downward dog if there are wrist issues

Practice this pose at the beginning of your practice for core and shoulder activation, in the middle as a pause point or to build more heat, or at the end as a way to challenge your adaptability.

Dolphin is one of my favorites to practice and teach. This helped me strengthen my shoulders while relaxing my neck, which was a game changer in my teaching and personal practice. I hope these tips and cues help you feel the benefits of this pose.

Practice Dolphin with me in the Y&M membership - become a member today and gain access to all the classes. $29/month - no time commitment. You can cancel anytime.

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