Dolphin Plank Pose (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana)

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Dolphin Plank Pose, Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana, (MAH-kar-ah ah-doh moo-kuh SVAH-NAH-suh-nuh)

makara (crocodile) + adhas (down) + mukha (facing) + svana (dog) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Forearm Balancing Asana

Pose Type: Core Activating, Strengthening

Difficulty: Intermediate

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing a dolphin plank pose

Light a fire in your core and tap into your inner strength with Dolphin Plank Pose

Dolphin Plank Pose Fundamentals

Dolphin Plank Pose is a core activator, great for building endurance, stability, and strength in the entire body. It is often used as a modification for plank pose if you have fussy writs or for those looking for more sensation, it can prove to be even a bit more challenging.

This arm balance might feel easy coming into but after a few seconds, we can feel it fire up our core and has us trembling. It challenges our ability to hug everything into the midline and find the strength to continue to hold with integrity.

This pose pushes us to connect to our tapas (our inner fire) and find balance, length, and strength.

It engages our center which naturally protects our low back and can serve us to counteract hunching and naturally improve posture. Feeling lethargic? Pop into Dolphin Plank Pose for a boost of energy and a sense of strength from the ground up. When we have a strong core we can avoid dumping excessive weight into the wrists, arms, and shoulders.

One Dolphin Plank Pose a day will keep you strong all day.

Dolphin Plank Pose Benefits

  • A total body strengthener that tones the deep muscles of the core and back muscles that support the spine
  • Corrects poor posture from sitting all day by pulling the shoulders back and toning the upper body
  • Creates strength in the arms, triceps, biceps, and side body
  • Creates integrity in the body and total alignment from head to toe
  • Strengthens the chest and pectoral muscles
  • Tones the inner thighs as you work to stabilize the core
  • Builds stamina, strong one pointed focus, and confidence
an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing dolphin plank Pose

How To Do Dolphin Plank Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Come to all fours, tabletop position. Drive your navel in towards your spine, and hug everything to the midline while still on the knees to power on your core.

2. Slowly and with control bring the forearms to the ground at a 90-degree angle and align your shoulders over the elbows and wrists in line with the elbows. Step your feet back and root down onto the balls of your feet. Drive your heels out towards the back of the room.

3. Hug your elbows into the side body and hug everything into the midline and squeeze your two shoulder blades together.

4. Engage your quadriceps by rotating them inward and hug your pelvic muscles in to help you grow long and straight like a plank of wood.

5. Hold from your center, supporting the low back to keep extension rather than dipping or curving in with the low back. Firm the glutes without gripping and tensing.

6. Broaden through the upper chest and grow tall through the neck. The gaze is straight down.

7. Stay here for 30 seconds and see if you can build up to 1 minute or as long as you can hold. To come out of it come back up to normal plank and into downward facing dog.

Tips And Tricks:

  • For ultimate results, keep proper alignment from head to toe. Imagine a straight line from the crown of your head to the tip of your tailbone.
  • Keep the low back level with the shoulders to avoid sagging in the hips or glutes.
  • Try to smoothen out your breathing here by taking controlled inhalations and exhalations.
  • Keep a broadness in the collarbones and the shoulder blades wide to engage your upper body and sustain this pose from a hollow back position.
  • Keep the muscles of the face relaxed rather than straining and gripping creating more internal struggle.

Dolphin Plank Pose Variations:

Dolphin Pose Variation: Dolphin Pose With A Block

Grab a block and rest it underneath your forehead to support your neck and to cultivate optimal alignment in the body.

Dolphin Pose Variation: Dolphin Pose On The Knees (Half Dolphin Plank)

If your core muscles or back muscles don’t feel strong enough practice this pose on your knees as you build integrity in your entire body. It’s best to build with proper form than muscle into this plank and force the body into a painful postion.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common Misalignments:

Dumping in the shoulders and wrists not engaging the core and shrugging the shoulders up to the ears. Practice broadening through the upper back and lifting up from your core.

Shoulder, Neck Or Back Injury

We suggest avoiding this pose if you are recovering from any kind of shoulder, neck or back surgery/ injury. Try mountain pose or staff pose instead.

Related Poses

Chaturanga Dansana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Catur Svanasana (Dolphin Pose)

Bakasana (Crane/ Crow Pose)

Preparatory Poses:

Phalakasana (Plank Pose)

Anahatasana (Heart to earth/ Puppy Pose)

Bharmanasana (Tabletop Pose )

Counter Poses:

Downward Dog

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Dog)

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Anna is a lifestyle writer and yoga teacher currently living in sunny San Diego, California. Her mission is to make the tools of yoga accessible to those in underrepresented communities.

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