Dolphin Pose

Dolphin pose (or more uncommonly known as shishulasana) is essentially a downward-facing dog on the forearms. It is a great strengthening and preparatory pose for inversions like sirsasana and pincha mayurasana.

Instructions

1. Start on all fours with hips over the knees and shoulders over the wrists.

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2. Keeping the elbows, forearms and hands shoulder-width apart, bring the forearms down onto the mat and tuck the toes under. Spread out all the fingers!

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3. Squeeze the elbows together and on an exhale, press the forearms into the ground as you lift the hips and straighten the legs with heels reaching towards the ground. Just like in downward-facing dog, keep the hips high with tailbone pointing up, and draw the navel into the spine. Actively push the ground away to lengthen the spine, but keep the elbows drawing towards each other. Do not rest the head on the ground, but keep it in line with the inverted V shape.

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4. Modification for tight hamstrings: bend the knees a little and let the heels come off the mat.

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5. Modification for tight shoulders: use a block and/or strap to keep the elbows from splaying out to the sides.

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6. To come out of the pose: bend the knees and come back to all fours, vajrasana or child’s pose.

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Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ookq29zRb0w

Benefits
• Strengthens the arms and legs
• Opens up the armpits, shoulders, upper back and chest
• Relieves tension in shoulders and upper back from sitting for extended periods
• Helps to regulate digestion and relieve insomnia, headache, backache and fatigue

Muscles engaged
• Hamstrings and calves stretch while quadriceps contract
• Muscles in the shoulder and upper back contract: Infraspinatus, teres major/minor, subscapularis, latissimus dorsi
• Serratus anterior contracts
• Triceps brachii and posterior deltoid contract

Contraindications
• Shoulder and neck injuries or inflammation should practise with caution
• Those with glaucoma and high blood pressure should avoid this

Deepening the pose
• Press from dolphin to downward-facing dog and back
• Dolphin pose to dolphin plank to strengthen shoulders, arms and core

by Jasmin, Sep 2014 Weekday YTT