Similar to downward dog, this pose opens up the shoulders and can be used to transition into many other inversions.

Dolphin Pose (Catur Svanasana) Step-By-Step Tutorial:

Step 1

Start by laying on the floor on all fours.

Align your knees with your hips, making sure that the first is below the latter while your forearms are on the mat.

Make sure your wrists are under your shoulders, and bring your palms together by applying a little bit of pressure from both sides.

Step 2

Take a deep breath and curl your toes. With an exhale, lift your knees up.

At first, you do not have to keep your knees straight, nor do your heels have to touch the floor. Just focus on stretching the tailbone.

Next, try to straighten your legs and try to form an inverted V that falls to the floor.

Step 3

Apply pressure on your forearms and engage your shoulder blades by bringing them towards your lower back.

Keep your head between your biceps without letting it hang or lean towards the mat.

Step 4

Straighten your knees if you can, but do not let your upper back become bulged. If it does, you can keep your knees bent.

Stretch your tailbone away from your abdomen, and lift the top of your chest bone away from the ground.

Step 5

Hold the pose anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds. Release the pose by bringing your knees to the mat while breathing out.

Dolphin pose
Dolphin Pose Variations

The first variation resembles a plank that strengthens your shoulders and abdominals.

Keep your feet straight and draw a straight line with your neck, back, and legs aligned. Make sure you do not put too much weight on your feet. Instead, put your elbows on the mat and try to distribute your weight evenly.

To take the best from the pose, engage your abdominal muscles. Apply some pressure on your feet, and extend your chest bone forward.

Lift your thighs a little bit while locking your tailbone. These movements will challenge your abdominal muscles even more, especially the lower part of your core.

Look forward and try to hold the pose for at least 10 seconds.


The second variation involves using a block to hold your wrists close to each other in case you feel weakness in your upper arms.

You can use any object that is at least 2 pounds, and use some straps around your wrists to keep your arms balanced.

You can also use a block under your heels to provide some support in case you feel the need to fall back on the floor with your heels.

You should not try this pose variation if you have a hard time shifting some of your body weight on your forearms.

Common Mistakes

If you are experiencing stiffness, pain, or have a hard time holding the Dolphin pose, it could be that you are making a few common mistakes that makes this pose harder than it actually is.

The best way to practice Yoga is to do it in front of the mirror. This helps you make sure that you are not modifying the pose in a way that can lead to injuries.

A rounded back can be problematic because it does not allow you to get all of the benefits of the pose. It will not allow your core muscles to work properly, nor will it strengthen your back muscles.

To fix this, squeeze your shoulder blades behind you and draw your upper body in. This will force your tailbone to go up and get rid of the rounded back.

You can also fix this by finding your comfort zone through experimenting from going to a tight plank and a tight round back, and then pressing back on your feet until you find the right spot when your back feels straighter.

Another common mistake that many beginners make is pushing their shoulders forward next to their ears.

If you do this, your back will be quite stiff, and you will do more harm than good, as the position is harmful for both your neck and shoulders.

To fix this, bring your shoulders back and practice shrugs and rolls to make your back less stiff. Also, become more aware of your back’s posture.

Wide elbows or the tendency to leave more space between the elbows to make it easier to hold the pose is another common mistake.

If you feel that your elbows have a tendency to depart from each other, use straps and a block between your arms to keep your elbows at the ideal distance from each other.

Benefits of Dolphin Pose

The dolphin pose can help you out both physically and mentally by adding strength and lean mass to your body as well as by stimulating the seventh energetic point in your body, the crown chakra.

To help you learn more about the impact Catur Svanasana has on your body, I have dedicated a small section to each one of the benefits, which should come in handy if you are not sure whether this asana will help you achieve your goals.

Adds Stability to Your Upper Body

The shoulder girdle is one of the most important bone structures in our body, yet it is often the hardest to reach when it comes to building strength.

All the bones that are part of your shoulder joint are connected in one place: near the collarbone and chest bone.

The dolphin pose can help you build lean mass in this area, which will add a great deal of stability and strength to your upper body.

Toned Abdomen

If you hate the idea of doing crunches or planks, the dolphin pose helps both your superficial and deep muscles gain strength when you are moving your torso back and forth to find your balance.

If you are also practicing variations of the dolphin pose, such as going down on a pose that resembles a plank, you will develop even more core strength.

Relieves Menstrual Pain

Two of the most common pain points for women during menstruation are the lower back and lower belly.

The dolphin pose stretches the back and strengthens the lower belly muscles. It works as a gentle massage for those areas, which can prevent menstrual pain.

The symptoms of menstrual discomfort are usually linked either to a sedentary lifestyle or to hormonal imbalances. If you fit more in the first category than the second category, working both your core and back will help you out.

Improves Digestion

Stretching your back and engaging your abdominal muscles provides a gentle massage for the digestive system, and particularly your colon, which has its own manner of using contractions to eliminate waste.

By working these areas, you give your colon an extra hand, especially if you are suffering from constipation or you do not get enough fiber in your diet and you want to prevent any digestive issues.

Strengthens Your Legs

In the child’s pose, there are three points in your body that contribute to maintaining your balance: feet, core, and elbows.

Naturally, each one of them will become stronger over time if you practice the pose regularly. Your ankles will have the most to gain from this pose.

Fights Depression

Meditation and Yoga can help modify the way we perceive the negative events in our life.

While we cannot change what happens to us, through breathing techniques, poses, and meditation, we teach our body to have a better response to stress.

This can include fighting depression and the inner sorrow that appears when we have a bad image of ourselves, our life, and what happens to us on a daily basis.

It Helps Create a Strong Foundation for Other Poses

Yoga works like a system. Each piece of the puzzle is important to reach your goal. This is why one asana can pave the road for another.

For the Yoga students who dream about being able to hold a forearm stand or a headstand, the dolphin pose can help you build the stability you need in your upper body and back.

The dolphin pose also improves the way you perceive your body as well as your awareness of how each body part helps you hold a pose. This is vital if you want to maintain your balance in a headstand.

Opens Your Crown Chakra

For those who are interested in finding out more about each asana and how they impact the energy points in our body, the dolphin pose opens the chakra that is responsible for our spirituality, our view of the world, and everything that has to do with our spirit.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or any illness that touches you emotionally, working towards opening your crown chakra might help.

The dolphin pose is one of the steps you can take, along with meditation, to increase your chances of healing yourself from within.


Catur Svanasana is not an advanced pose, but it can be challenging for Yoga practitioners who are suffering of back stiffness and balance issues.

The asana is also not recommended for pregnant women because its impact on the core is too strong.

If you are suffering from diarrhea or high blood pressure, you should avoid this pose as well.

Did you benefit from this article? Did I miss anything? Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated – please post in the comments and I will personally respond!

Marcus Stone

Marcus Stone

Soon after graduating college with a degree in Journalism, Marcus decided to pursue his love for yoga and traveled to Rishikesh, India to complete his RYS 500 yoga teacher training. Marcus wants people to know that yoga is for everyone – no matter your race, gender, age, or physical ability. >> Read More
Marcus Stone

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