How to Do Dolphin Pose and Push-Ups

Core strength is at the heart of an advancing yoga practice. Inversions, arm balances, and standing balances all require power that radiates from the core. So how can you build this type of strength? You could do crunches, of course, or try our yoga crunch alternatives. I prefer core poses that you can incorporate into your flow, like our plank variations or these dolphin push-ups. Working with your forearms on the floor is also a great way to prepare for forearm stand (pincha mayurasana). You might even try playing with kicking up your legs once you get warmed up if you feel ready.


Begin in Dolphin Pose

Dolphin. Ann Pizer

Begin in dolphin pose (also sometimes called puppy pose), which is essentially downward facing dog with your forearms on the mat. The basic way to get into this pose is from a hands and knees position with the forearms down. Then you lift your hips as you would when coming into down dog. If you want to try something a little fancier, come into a regular downward facing dog and then simultaneously lower both forearms to the floor. Dolphin is a really good alternative to down dog for people with wrist pain.


Clasp Your Hands in a Variation on Dolphin

Dolphin Variation
Dolphin Variation. Ann Pizer

Move your forearms to a V position so that you can interlace your fingers the way you would in preparation for a headstand. This gives you a little more traction as you begin to move, but you can also leave the hands separate and arms parallel if you prefer.


Move the Torso Forward to a Plank Position

Dolphin Push-Up
Dolphin Push-Up. Ann Pizer

Move your torso forward so that your face comes over your hands. The elbows will be lined up under your shoulders. Keep your body straight as you would in a plank position. In fact, this is basically a forearm plank with the hands clasped.


Return to Dolphin

Dolphin Variation
Dolphin Variation. Ann Pizer

Push the hips back to dolphin. This is the basic back and forth motion of the dolphin push up. Try to do 10 reps, moving the torso forward to a plank position on the inhale and pushing the hips back to high on the exhale.


Rest in Child's Pose

Child's Pose - Balasana
Child's Pose - Balasana. Ian Hooton/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Come down and rest in child's pose. Depending on your stamina, you could try to go for one or two more sets of 10. If that's not possible yet, work up to it.


[Optional] Forearm Stand

How to Do Forearm Stand - Pincha Mayurasana
Forearm Stand - Pincha Mayurasana. Ann Pizer

If you are working on forearm stand, this is a good time to try one since you've acclimated your body to the arm position. From dolphin, walk your feet in toward your elbows as close as possible. Raise one leg and give it a little hop.

The goal is to get your hips over your shoulders. If you're worried about going all the way over, move to a wall but give yourself a bit of distance from the wall so you can get a feel for the balance. Another strategy is to put a strap around your arms just above the elbows to keep them from moving apart from one another.

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