Step-by-Step Yoga Pose: Dolphin

Want to build strength and tone tank top-ready shoulders? Challenge yourself with dolphin pose. You’ll get a nice hamstring stretch, too.

Dolphin Pose

Alias: ardha pincha mayurasana (“ardha” = half, “pincha” = feathers, “mayura” = peacock, “asana” = pose)

Why Dolphin Pose?

By practicing dolphin pose, you’ll strengthen your shoulder and pectoral muscles while stretching through the legs and the arches of the feet. Elevate your mood by inverting blood flow and circulating any “stuck” energy. It’s a power pose – breathe through the difficult moments and emerge with a sense of accomplishment.

Getting into the posture:

  • Begin by kneeling on your mat.
  • Bring your forearms to the floor 12-18” in front of your knees, keeping them parallel.
    • If this is too much for your shoulders, clasp your hands in a fist at the center of the mat.
  • Push down through the arms and round up through the back. Engage the shoulder muscles.
  • Lift the knees up and begin to straighten your legs.
  • Raise your hips toward the ceiling, making an A-shape with your body.
  • Keep the neck relaxed. Tone your belly by pulling it toward your spine.
  • Need more of a challenge? Tip toe your feet closer to your face.
  • Hold the pose for 3-10 breaths.
  • To exit the pose, lower your knees to the mat. Come to child’s pose to rest or take a moment simply to sit.
  • Repeat the sequence 1-2 times, staying in the pose longer each time if you can.

Tips for success:

  • Press down firmly through the forearms, wrists and hands.
  • Keep shoulders aligned over your elbows.
  • Bend your legs as needed.
  • Pull ribs and belly in toward your spine to keep the core engaged.
  • Relax your neck.

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  • Practice the pose while kneeling. You can still strengthen your shoulders by pressing down through the forearms and lifting up through your chest.
  • Lift one leg up, keeping it straight, to engage the glute muscle on the raised leg.
  • Raise one leg and bend at the knee, opening your hip to the side for a nice stretch.

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Contraindications (when to be cautious):

  • Previous shoulder injury: move carefully and be gentle. Come down to your knees if doing the pose with straight legs puts too much pressure on the shoulder girdles.
  • Previous neck injury: keep your neck straight and relaxed. If your neck hurts, come out of the pose.
  • Do not perform this pose with active neck or shoulder injuries!

Natalie Sober is a yoga enthusiast who is inspired to share her knowledge. Natalie completed her first RYT-200 hour yoga teacher training course in Telkot, Nepal, in the Sanatan style of yoga before obtaining her second RYT-200 hour certification in the Power Vinyasa style. She also happens to be a member of Pharmaca’s marketing department.

Interested in learning more? Check out other poses in our Step-by-Step Yoga Series

**Please consult your physician before beginning this series or any exercise program. As always, your body is the best teacher so listen to the cues it gives regarding whether or not a pose is a good idea.