I love Dolphin! It is great to strengthen our upper body, helping us to prepare for a number of inversions. Think headstands and forearm balances!
As a climber, practicing Dolphin will offer some excellent benefits, such as strengthening antagonistic muscles on the shoulders and the triceps; opening the upper torso (chest, shoulders and armpits) and the hamstrings; also promoting a better range of motion on the shoulders and the spine. In addition, it offers a nice core workout.
Getting into Dolphin
- Start from a Table Top position. Place your forearms on the floor, keeping them parallel to each other, elbows directly under the shoulders and wrists in line with the elbows.
- Tuck in your toes, firm your inner wrists down and with an exhalation lift your hips up as you would in Downward Facing Dog.
- Keep your knees bent to start with and lengthen your tailbone upwards, opening the front of your body and broadening the shoulder blades. Ears in line with upper arms, shoulders away from the ears, keeping the neck free.
- Holding the extension on the spine, try to straighten the legs. Lifting the sitting bones up and lengthening the heels towards the ground. The heels don’t necessarily need to touch the floor, so if you have tight hamstrings, resist the urge to get the heels down if it will result in you loosing the shape on the spine. On the other hand, if you are flexible in your upper back you may find yourself overarching. In this case, try to bring the lower ribs in to preserve the integrity of the shape.
- Keep the shoulders lifting and the legs active. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
Because of tightness in the shoulders, keeping the forearms parallel can be quite hard work as the hands tend to move towards each other and the elbows away from each other. To help you with that, I would recommend the use of a block and a belt.
Make a shoulder-width loop on the belt and place it above your elbows. Place the block, on its lowest hight on the mat in front of you, and hug the 2 corners closer to you with your thumbs and index fingers, spreading the other fingers evenly on the mat. Perform Dolphin as described above.