Dolphin pose: Common misalignments

4 min read

There are many ways to make your Dolphin Pose feel more spacious.

Some suggestions include bending your toes slightly inward to rotate your hips internally. You can also clasp your hands and squeeze your elbows into a block, relax your neck and head, and tilt your tailbone upwards as in Down Dog.

These Dolphin Pose challenges are often the result of tight shoulders. Not just the kind you can feel in your neck and shoulders but also those that run across your chest and front shoulders.

If you are too tight, it will make chest openings and backbends harder.

Here are some ways that tight shoulders may affect your Dolphin, followed by some ways to stretch them:

The Rounded Back

You can get rid of a rounded back in Dolphin or Down Dog by pulling your ribs and squeezing together your shoulder blades.

This will help you achieve the spacious length that you have been looking for.

  • You can enhance this action by rocking your toes up and down from a forearm plank into a tight, round Dolphin or by pressing your heels back down a few more times. You will eventually find a spot on your spine where you can feel it longer and straighter, creating a longer Dolphin.

Shoulders that have caved in

In Dolphin Pose, yogis often keep their shoulders close to their ears. It is a combination of gravity and disengagement in the shoulders. Your ears and shoulders are not good friends.

Then, press your shoulders away from the ears to raise them toward your hips. Slide your upper body forward so that your thumbs are no longer over your face.

It is common to misalign the shoulders in many poses. If you have tight shoulders and think that they are living up near your ears, start each practice by doing some shoulder rolls and shrugs to become more aware that this tension is present.

Wide Elbows

For a strong Dolphin base, keep your elbows tucked in toward your midline. This is a difficult task for many people. The best way to start strengthening the base is by interlacing your fingers.

As mentioned earlier, tightening your shoulders will make your face and heart melt. So keep your hands up and away from the floor. BUT ALSO, squeeze your elbows tightly.

If you see them sliding towards the edges of your mat, reset your posture. You may also consider using a strap around your upper arms to hold your elbows in place without any lateral movement. It takes strength to do this, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time.

Shoulders and Chest

You can open your shoulders by controlling your backbends and learning how to stretch your spine into the front plane.

It may be that your shoulders are inflexible, or you need more patience to open them. But, if you want to hold Dolphin (or its inverted cousins), it is important to train your shoulders so they align with your elbows and not your wrists.

You will see a difference in Dolphin and on your mat if you practice these small motions.

Recommended Exercises

  • Roll your shoulders back in all postures to open your chest as much as possible.

You can use this in Warrior II and III, Cobra, Tree Pose, or Chair. This can be used in Warrior II, III, Cobra Pose, Tree Pose, or Chair.

  • It can be strange to open your chest upside-down.┬áTie a block between your shoulder blades to your back.┬áTake Ragdoll and press the block against a wall. Try leaning against the wall and block to feel how your shoulders should come together.

You can create the same feeling with props if you have a yoga partner who will press between your shoulder blades while you are doing Down Dog or Dolphin.

  • In a sitting or standing position, lift your arms above your head with your shoulders down and bend your elbows to face the ceiling.

You can also pull your ribs together to avoid a back bend.

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