Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose) - SharpMuscle
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The Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, also known as Dolphin Pose, strengthens the upper body, shoulders, arms, chest, and upper back, while stretching the hamstrings and calves, improving flexibility in the legs.

Information

Known as:Dolphin Pose, Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, Half Feather Peacock Pose
Sanskrit name:अर्ध पिंच मयूरासन
IAST:Ardha Pincha Mayūrāsana
Pronunciation:uh-r-d-haa pihn-chuh myoo-r-aa-suh-nuh
Type:Inversions, semi-inversion
Level:Intermediate
Total time:20-60 seconds or more
Focus:Upper body (arms, shoulders, core muscles)
Drishti:Towards the feet
Chakra:Manipura (solar plexus) Chakra, Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra
Indications:Shoulders, arms, chest, upper back, hamstrings, calves, core, flexibility, cognitive function, circulation, relaxation, calmness, anxiety, stress, mindfulness, insomnia
Counterposes:Balasana (Child’s Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)
Preparatory poses:Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Plank Pose (Phalakasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Follow-up poses:Balasana (Child’s Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Contraindications:Recent or deep injury on shoulder, neck, arm or thighs, weak back or core

Meaning

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana is a Sanskrit term that can be broken down into four components — Ardha + Pincha + Mayura + Asana:

  1. Ardha” = “half”
  2. Pincha” = “feather” or “plumage”
  3. Mayura” = “peacock”
  4. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

Therefore, Ardha Pincha Mayurasana is commonly translated as “Half Feathered Peacock Pose”. The name of the pose comes from the fact that the posture resembles a peacock with its feathers partially spread.

The pose is sometimes also referred to as “Dolphin Pose”, as it resembles the shape of a dolphin swimming in the water. The name “Dolphin Pose” is used in some yoga traditions to refer to a preparatory version of Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, where the forearms are on the ground and the hands are clasped together, rather than the hands being shoulder-width apart and flat on the ground.

Benefits of Dolphin Pose

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana provides a range of physical and mental benefits. The physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose are listed below:

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Physical Benefits:

  • Strengthens the upper body, shoulders, arms, chest, and upper back
  • Build core strength and stability
  • Stretches the hamstrings and calves, improving flexibility in the legs
  • Increases blood flow to the brain, helping to improve cognitive function and overall circulation
  • Stimulates the reproductive organs in both men and women

Mental Benefits:

  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Increases self-confidence and feelings of accomplishment
  • Promotes relaxation and calmness
  • Reduces the feelings of anxiety and stress
  • Help to cultivate mindfulness, as you focus on your breath and the sensations in your body

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana Practice Guide

Dolphin Pose is often considered a modification of Downward Facing Dog Pose, as the two poses share many similarities but with a different weight-bearing position. If you have wrist pain or discomfort, Dolphin Pose can be a great alternative as it places less strain on the wrists and hands. However, it’s important to still practice the pose with proper alignment and engagement of the core and shoulder blades to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulders.

When practicing Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, it’s important to focus on proper alignment and avoid pushing beyond your comfort level. If you’re new to the pose, you can try bending your knees slightly or placing a blanket under your elbows or feet for extra support. Gradually work towards straightening your legs and bringing your feet closer to your elbows as your strength and flexibility improve.

Dolphin Pose is a beneficial yoga pose that works to strengthen and stretch various parts of the body.

It primarily targets the upper body, including the arms, shoulders, and upper back. By supporting your body weight on your forearms, the pose engages and strengthens the muscles in these areas, promoting stability and endurance.

The engagement of the abdominal muscles in Ardha Pincha Mayurasana helps to build core strength and stability. As you hold the pose, the core muscles work to maintain proper alignment and support the spine.

Dolphin Pose helps to open and stretch the shoulders and chest. As you press your forearms into the ground and broaden your shoulder blades, it creates a gentle stretch in these areas, relieving tension and promoting better posture.

In this pose, the heels are often kept off the ground, resulting in a gentle stretch in the hamstrings and calves. This can help to improve flexibility in the lower body and alleviate tightness in these muscle groups.

The pose has both energizing and calming effects on the body and mind. The inversion aspect of the pose increases blood flow to the brain, providing a boost of energy and mental clarity. At the same time, the grounding nature of the pose and the focus on breath can promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

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Before practicing Dolphin Pose, it’s important to warm up your body with some gentle stretches and movements. This can include Cat-Cow stretches, gentle twists, and some sun salutations to get your blood flowing and your muscles warmed up. You can also do some preparatory poses, such as Downward Facing Dog, to help stretch your hamstrings and calves.

It’s also important to pay attention to your breath while practicing Dolphin Pose. Breathe mindfully and slowly through your nose, paying special attention to the expansion and contraction of your ribcage with your each breath. This will help to calm your mind and keep you centered in the pose.

Remember to listen to your body and practice with awareness and intention. If you feel any discomfort or pain in the pose, back off or modify as needed. With regular practice, you’re going to improve upper-body strength and flexibility, as well as you feel increasingly comfortable in this posture.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin by positioning yourself on your knees and hands, creating a Tabletop position.
  2. Interlock your forearms, folding them at the elbows, and rest your forearms on the floor.
  3. Ensure proper elbow alignment by clasping opposite elbows, maintaining the width between them.
  4. Orient your palms downward, spreading your fingers wide, with the middle fingers pointing forward.
  5. Inhale deeply, tuck your toes, lift your knees off the floor, and elevate your hips toward the ceiling. Your head should not touch the ground, either allowing it to stretch or finding a comfortable position.
  6. Engage your shoulder blades firmly against your ribs, widening your shoulders. Balance your body weight on your forearms and toes, keeping your legs straight.
  7. Gradually bring your feet closer to your chest by walking them in, finding a comfortable position. Your feet should be straight or slightly flexed at the knees.
  8. Maintain a straight spine and aim to touch your heels to the floor. This inverted pose resembles an upward-pointing ‘V’.
  9. Take slow and deep breaths, holding this posture for 4 to 10 breaths (approximately 30-60 seconds).
  10. When ready to conclude, slowly lower your hips, rest your knees on the floor, and release your elbows from the floor.
  11. Transition into Balasana (Child’s Pose) by resting your body on your knees and either keeping the arms extended or folding the legs straight for relaxation.
  12. If desired, repeat this asana 2-3 times within a single session for additional practice and benefits.

Tips

  • For beginners, maintaining straight legs in this pose may be challenging. It is acceptable to slightly bend the knees if needed, but avoid excessive bending.
  • To alleviate discomfort in the elbows, consider placing a folded blanket underneath them for added cushioning. Additionally, placing a folded blanket under the feet can provide extra support.
  • Initially, there may be a strong inclination to clasp the hands together, but refrain from doing so. Instead, try using a yoga block positioned between the hands and press against it with both hands. If necessary, seek assistance from a partner to ensure proper alignment during the initial stages.
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Modifications and variations

Following are the modifications and variations that you can make to Ardha Pincha Mayurasana:

  1. Forearm Plank: If you find it difficult to lift your hips and hold them in the air, you can practice Forearm Plank instead. Bring your body to the Tabletop position, lay your forearms on the ground, and elevate your body into a plank posture. Make sure to keep your body straight from your head to your heels and hold for a few breaths.
  2. Wall-supported Dolphin Pose: If you have trouble balancing in this pose or find it challenging to hold your body weight on your forearms, you can try Wall-supported Dolphin Pose. Stand facing a wall, and place your forearms on the wall. Walk your feet back and lift your hips up, keeping your body straight. Press your forearms into the wall for support.
  3. Dolphin Pose with Leg Lift: To make this pose more challenging, you can try Dolphin Pose with Leg Lift. From the Dolphin Pose position, lift one leg off the ground and hold for a few breaths. Lower the leg and repeat on the other side.
  4. Dolphin Plank Pose: This is a more challenging variation of the pose that involves lifting one leg off the ground while holding a forearm plank position. Come to a forearm plank position, keeping your body straight from head to heels. Then, raise one leg off the ground and hold it straight for a few breaths. Lower the leg and do the same on the opposite side.

Precautions and contraindications

Precautions and contraindications are important to consider before practicing Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, especially if you have a recent or deep injury in the shoulder, neck, arm, or thighs, or if you have a weak back or core.

However, the precautions and contraindications of this yoga pose are explained below:

1. Recent or Deep Injury:

If you have a recent or deep injury in the shoulder, neck, arm, or thighs, it is crucial to avoid putting additional strain or pressure on the affected areas. Dolphin Pose requires significant engagement of the upper body, including the shoulders and arms. Placing weight on injured or sensitive areas may exacerbate the injury and hinder the healing process. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified yoga instructor for guidance on modifying or avoiding the pose until the injury has healed.

2. Weak Back or Core:

Dolphin Pose involves a strong engagement of the back and core muscles to maintain stability and proper alignment. If you have a weak back or core, attempting Dolphin Pose without adequate strength can put excessive strain on these areas and may lead to discomfort or potential injury. It is important to gradually build strength through other foundational poses and exercises before attempting Dolphin Pose. Focus on strengthening the back, abdominal, and core muscles through exercises like Cat-Cow stretches, Plank Pose, and gentle backbends to prepare the body for the demands of Dolphin Pose.

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