I love to hate Dolphin pose. Hands down, this single pose challenges me like none other. With its request to open my thoracic spine and hamstrings, which are both shortened from my time at my computer, I feel like someone looked at all my physical weakness and created this pose to challenge all of them simultaneously.
That is just my personal experience. Some people find this pose to be lovely, benign, and even energizing. However, with my struggles with this pose, when I broke my neck and recruited help teaching from my friend and yoga mentor Steph Abbott, I knew which pose I was going to ask her to teach: Dolphin pose!
- We will use ujjayi breathing.
- If you have a tight spine, you may want to practice Sphinx pose as a way to warm up your upper back.
- Begin on your hands and knees. You may want to have a block nearby to help with your form. Personally, I enjoy using the block and I feel like it helps me get deeper into my upper back.
- If you’re using the block, place it length-wise between the “L” created by your thumb and pointer finger on both hands.
- Holding the block (or not), lower your forearms to the mat. Your fingers should be spread, and your forearms should be parallel.
- Your shoulders should be above your elbows.
- Draw your low belly to your spine, and lift your hips.
- Separate your feet so that they’re at your outer hip distance.
- Put a deep bend in your knees to help reach your hips into the air.
- Isometrically draw your elbows toward your feet. This feeling of muscular energy will help you broaden your collarbones, slide your shoulders away from your ears, and put your scapulas in the correct position on your back.
- By setting yourself up with this correct alignment, you can now focus on softening and letting your heart rotate forward. This rotation helps to open the upper part of the back that often gets rounded with working at a desk or using personal electronic devices.
- Hold here for 5 or more breaths, encouraging yourself to let your heart soften on each exhale.
- Keep reminding yourself to push the floor away with strong arms.
- To come out of the pose, draw your low belly to your spine, and bend your knees so that they lower to the ground.
- You may want to sit back to stretch your spine the opposite way and rest your arms.
- Repeat so that you perform this pose two or three times.
Dolphin Pose Video
You will notice that Steph and I explain this pose in different ways. Maybe something I have written will resonate with you, and maybe something she says will resonate with you. This is a perfect example of why it’s important to try different teachers to further your yoga practice.
So, for the visual learners, here’s Steph teaching Dolphin pose. (Be sure to find her on Facebook at Steph Abbott, LLC. Her website, stephabbott.com, is currently under construction, but it’s coming soon!)
Well?! What do you think? Are you with me? Do you love to hate Dolphin pose, too? Let us know in the comments.
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