Dolphin Pose  -Forearm Adho Mukha Svanasana

Step by step

  • Come onto your hands and knees (all fours). Make sure your knees are directly below the hips. Place your forearms on the floor, insuring that your shoulders are directly above your elbows, press them into the floor. Press the palms of your hands together, interlace the fingers. If your shoulders are open you can have your hands palms down shoulder width apart (like in the picture).
  • On an exhale, curl your toes under and lift your knees away from the floor, keeping your knees slightly bent to find length in the spine and your heels lifted. Next extend your legs and lower the heels towards the floor (they don't have to touch).
  • Extend your hips up to the ceiling. Lift your sitting bones up but draw the tailbone down.
  • Draw your inner legs up into the groin, continue to press the forearms actively into the floor.
  • Firm your shoulder blades down onto your back while maintaining space between them. Lengthen your spine. Hold your head between your arms, keep the head off the floor.
  • You can hold this pose between 5-15 breaths.
  • On an exhale you allow your knees to come back onto the floor and rest in Child's Pose.

Beginners tips

  • If your legs are straight but your back is arching, it's better to keep the knees bent slightly to keep the extension in your spine.
  • You can build strength for this pose by practicing Forearm Plank and Downward Dog.

Benefits

  • Great alternative pose for those who have sensitive wrists instead of Downward Facing Dog pose.
  • Stretches and strengthens the shoulders, arms, upper body and legs.
  • Activates the arches of your feet.

Watch out for

  • Avoid the pose if you have shoulder injuries.
  • Take care to keep the shoulderblades firmly against the back to support you.
  • Keep the neck relaxed and in line with the spine.

Variations

  • Open your shoulders by lifting your elbows (on a rolled up mat or pillows), pressing your wrists firmly into the floor.
  • If you feel stress or tension in your shoulders, you can try clasping your hands together instead.
  • For a dynamic movement, when you are in the full expression of this pose, come to your toes on an inhale, and back down to your heels on an exhale
  • To get more of an intense stretch, try walking your feet closer to your hands, try lifting one leg at a time as preperation for Forearm Balance and Headstands.
  • Turn this into what Ana Forrest calls Turbodog pose by lifting the elbows slightly off the mat.