While yoga is often viewed as a gentler form of physical activity, many variations of the practice can actually be used to build up strength and endurance, while also stretching and toning the body. For people looking to strengthen and tone, many poses in the practice of yoga can be implemented into a workout routine to help reach fitness goals in a fun, challenging, and unique way. Dolphin Pose, or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, is a great pose to turn to for inexperienced and advanced yogis alike. It is especially impactful when it comes to building up strength in the upper body, and also helps to stretch out the legs and back.
Performing Dolphin Pose
Start in plank pose, with your palms pressing firmly into the mat. Gently lower down onto your forearms, keeping them parallel on the ground and should-width distance apart. Begin stepping your feet forward in small steps towards your arms, allowing your hips to raise. You should eventually make an upside-down ‘V’ shape with your body.
Keep your head aligned between your upper arms, with your gaze looking back towards your feet, and be sure to keep your neck active. Bring awareness to your spine, keeping it straight as you reach your tailbone up and back. Actively press your heels towards the floor to fully feel the stretch in the back of your legs.
Remain in this position for about 30 seconds, focusing on keeping your breath deep and flowing evenly. After 30 seconds, release back through plank, or by simply coming forward to a kneeling position.
If you would like to take the pose further, you can do so by walking your feet closer to your hands, to create more of an intense stretch. You can also play with the pose by lifting one leg off the ground at a time and pointing it up at a diagonal. This will help you build strength in the core, arms, and shoulders, helping you to eventually work on challenging arm balances.
If you have any shoulder or neck injuries, practice caution when performing this posture. Move into it gently, and release back down if anything doesn’t feel right for your body. If your hamstrings feel too tight to practice the full variation of the pose, you can bend your knees to make it more accessible.
Benefits of Dolphin Pose
Over time, practicing Dolphin Pose regularly will powerfully impact the entire body, as well as help bring your focus inward and remain in the present. The benefits of Dolphin Pose include the following:
- Strengthens and stretches the shoulders, back, and core.
- Opens up the hamstrings and calves.
- Increases overall flexibility, especially in the legs and spine.
- Releases tension in the upper back and shoulders, and helps fight against chronic pain in those areas.
- Improves digestion.
- Improves circulation and increases blood flow to the brain.
- Therapeutic for certain health conditions, such as asthma, high blood pressure, and sciatica.
- Relieves insomnia.
- Helps reduce headache frequency and intensity.
- Calms the mind.
Dolphin Pose is a wonderful posture for athletes and yogis alike to practice. Regardless of whether you are a regular yoga practitioner or not, it can help you explore your limits and build up your strength for other physical activities, while also providing a deep stretch to your body. For those who are looking to expand their overall yoga practice and push their physical boundaries, the pose is an excellent precursor to arm balances like crow, handstand, or headstand.