Ardha Pincha Mayurasana – Dolphin Pose, How To Do, Benefits

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana is a standing pose. It is also a mild inversion. This pose resembles an inverted letter ‘V’ with forearms and toes on the floor. The rest of the body is raised to form a ‘V’.

It is a semi inversion that brings more blood flow into your head, strengthens your upper body and prepares you for inversions and arm balances.

It is an excellent beginner to intermediate standing core inversion. It is a good shoulder opener pose too. It is a great variation of downward facing dog – adho mukha svanasana and almost resembles it. While in downward facing dog the palms rest on the floor but in dolphin pose the forearms rest on the floor. ‘
Read – Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose, How to do, Benefits

It is the best alternative for Shirsasana – head stand. It is said to give at least half the benefits of headstand.

It is called by various names –

  • Dolphin pose
  • Puppy pose
  • Half feathered peacock pose

It is a preparatory pose for scorpion and peacock pose. It prepares your mind and body for a full inversion.  

Ardha = half
Pincha = feathers
Mayura = peacock
Asana = pose
Read – Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand Pose, Method, Benefits, Dosha Effect

Preparation for Ardha Pincha Mayurasana  

  • Ardha Pincha Mayurasana should be preferably practiced early morning on empty stomach.
  • The stomach shall be empty even if the pose is practiced at evening. For this one should take food 3-4 hours before practicing the pose. This will not only keep the stomach empty but also will provide the needed energy for practicing the pose.
  • The practitioner should keep the bowel and bladder empty while beginning the pose.
    Read – Mayurasana Peacock Pose Method, Benefits, Side Effects, Ayurveda View

Method of doing

a. From tabletop position

Positioning for the pose

Start with table top position. You stand on your palms and knees with your back and head forming the table top while you face downwards. Your toes are touching the floor. The shoulders and wrists should be aligned. The palms should be placed on the floor with shoulder width apart.

Performing the pose

Now gradually place your forearms on the floor in front of you firm and nice. The little finger side of the hand and forearm should be placed on the ground. Clasp / interlock the fingers of both hands. When you clasp the fingers you will get that grip to lift your torso along with your knees high up. Take few deep breaths. Curl back your toes.

As you exhale slowly lift the knees and hips off the floor / mat pressing your forearms against the floor. Press your toes against the floor. Your shoulders should be spaced out and don’t squeeze them. Keep your neck long and relaxed. Look down and back. Now you are standing on your forearms and the toes. Stay here for few seconds or breathes and experience the stretch on your calves and Achilles tendon.

Breathe easily here. Inhale and exhale and make sure that your breathing here is normal.

By pushing your chest down, focus on opening your shoulders.

Breathe easily further.

Variations

You may do few up and down movements here. With inhale you can move up and with exhale you may come down.
Read – Adho Mukha Vriksasana – Handstand How to do, Benefits, Ayurveda Details

Release from the pose

  • Exhale and first bring one knee down and then the other knee down while relaxing your toes. Relax in child’s pose – balasana.
  • Alternatively lift your elbows and rest your hands on the floor and come back to table top position. From here you may end up with vajrasana – diamond pose.
  • Breathe easily at finish and relax.

b. From child’s pose

You may also do the dolphin pose from child’s pose. (watch here)

Modifications, Variations

Modifications

  • You can practice this pose by pressing your heels against the wall.
  • You can hold on to a yoga block between the hands instead of interlocking your fingers
  • You can place a folded blanked under your elbows to do the pose comfortably.
  • Do not force on yourself to touch your heels to the ground. You may use a brick under your heels.
  • You may also press your inner wrists firmly to the ground.

Variations

Lift one leg up to the ceiling at a time

Variant

Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog is the easy variant of this pose. Try raising each leg alternatively, one at a time. This increases the stretch and intensity of the pose. In downward dog you rest your palms on the floor while in Ardha Pincha Mayurasana you rest your forearms on the floor.

Watch this video to follow the method of doing Ardha Pincha Mayurasana https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9qEcTjmA78&pbjreload=101 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddGXv5EFRXc

Health Benefits

  • Great pose to build up strength in the upper parts of the body, mainly the shoulders and forearm
  • Tones up arm and core muscles
  • Opens up shoulders and biceps
  • Relieves tightness in shoulders
  • Stretches hamstrings, calves, shoulders and arches of the feet
  • Strengthens the shoulders, legs and arms
  • Strengthens back, abdomen, neck, chest, mid back, lower back, and hips
  • Strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis
  • Provides a wider range of motion to the spine and shoulders
  • Since the weight of body lies on upper arms and upper body, core and arms become strong
  • Relieves compression between the vertebrae which can be caused by sitting for long periods of time.
  • Encourages better alignment in the spine
  • Maintains body balance
  • Good for blood circulation
  • Stimulates internal organs
  • Since the pose brings in extra blood flow to the head, it helps in giving you a better sleep. This also stimulates the pineal gland. Pineal gland manufactures and distributes melatonin which regulates sleep cycles.
  • Stimulates nervous system
  • Calms brain
  • Helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression
  • It improves balance, attention, concentration and memory
  • Being a semi inversion it provides relief to the heart by bringing blood back to the heart through gravity. It stimulates blood flow and also aid lymphatic circulation.
  • It also opens up chest and heart nicely
  • Stimulates digestive organs and improves digestion
  • Relieves back pain, insomnia and headache
  • Removes fatigue
  • Good for those suffering from high blood pressure, asthma, osteoporosis, flat feet and sciatica
  • Stimulates the reproductive organs, relieves menopause symptoms and menstrual discomfort

Preparatory Poses

  • Uttanasana – standing forward bend
  • Gomukhasana – cow face pose
  • Phalakasana – plank pose

Follow Up Poses

  • Salabhasana – locust / grasshopper pose

Time spent doing Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

The practitioner should stay in the pose for at least 30-60 seconds / 3 long and deep breaths.

Impact on Chakras

This pose stimulates and balances Sahasrara Chakra, Ajna Chakra – Third Eye Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra – Throat Chakra and Manipura Chakra – Navel Chakra.
Read – Muladhara Chakra – The Root Chakra, Features, How To Activate?

Contraindications, Precautions

Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (or shall do it under the supervision of an expert Yoga teacher) –

  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Shoulder, neck and arm injury
  • Low back injury
  • Disc herniation
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Hypertension
  • Excessive weight
  • Glaucoma

Caution

  • Avoid this pose in pregnancy.
  • Perform forward extensions like Uttanasana etc to warm up your body before doing this pose. You can also do the cow pose – Gomukhasana.
  • Knees should be bent slightly as you practice this pose.
  • Those having tight hamstrings should bend the knees in this pose.
  • Those with neck injury should keep their legs bent while practicing this pose
    Read – Bhekasana – Frog Pose, How To Do, Benefits, Effect On Dosha

Impact on doshas and tissues

Impact on Doshas and its subtypes – Since the pose helps in calming and also stimulating your brain, regulates your sleep and improves concentration and memory while relieving mind symptoms including stress, anxiety and depression it helps in balancing the networking and functioning of prana vata, vyana vata, sadhaka pitta and tarpaka kapha.

The pose is also good for the functioning of udana vata and avalambaka pitta along with vyana vata since it stimulates blood and lymphatic flow and also opens up the chest and heart and also helps cure asthma and high blood pressure.

It is a good pose for balancing samana vata and pachaka pitta along with kledaka kapha since it improves the digestion functions by stimulating the digestive organs.

It helps in balancing the functions of apana vata since it regulates and maintains health of reproductive system and also cures the diseases related to female reproductive system. 

Impact on tissues – Since the pose stretches, strengthens and tones up the muscles of different parts of the body, it is good for health of muscle tissue. The pose is also supportive to bone and blood tissue.

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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