No one likes this pose – or at least, very few people do.  If you’re doing it correctly then it’s a super strong on the shoulders and can also be challenging if you have tight hamstrings.  So why do it?  Well there are a few reasons.  Firstly it’s an inversion so you get all of the benefits of inverting without having to balance solely on your hands, head or forearms.  Secondly, it really builds strength in the shoulders and arms.  Thirdly, it can help stretch out the back of the legs (hamstrings and calves) and arches.  These are just 3 of the benefits of taking Dolphin but the list goes on!

Key alignment points

  • Elbows are shoulder width distance apart.  Some teachers will insist that the hands are also shoulder width apart but personally I feel that the hands can come together in prayer or interlace the fingers as long as the shoulders don’t collapse.  It can be helpful to place a block in-between the hands (lengthways), squeeze the block to help activate the shoulders.  If the palms are on the floor then really press down firmly through your fingers and inner wrists
  • Try to keep the shoulders stacked on top of the elbows to avoid puffing out the armpits and risking shoulder injury.  Just like in downward dog you want the spine to be long and the sit bones heading towards the sky but you need to dome up through the shoulders and press the floor away from you.  This is pretty much key to the pose and the hardest part.  If you feel like it’s difficult – that’s because it is.  If you feel that your head is close to the floor then you need to lift the shoulders and wrap your upper arms in


  • You can place a blanket or rolled up mat underneath the elbows to help open your shoulders
  • If you have tight hamstrings or are having trouble lifting the sit bones then try bending the knees and step the feet onto a block to lift the hips


  • Once you feel confident holding dolphin for 10 – 20 breaths try lift one leg and holding for 5 breaths.  Alternate the legs.