Shisulasana – Dolphin Pose

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Good morning Yogis! We are completing our detailed breakdown of each of the poses in the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series, and today is our last twisted or sister version for Daily Yogis.

The final Asana in this series is Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog. Today we will cover its sister pose, Shisulasana (SHIH-suh-LA-sa-na). This is a great Asana, and one I did not start practicing until my teacher training! Since Adho Mukha Svanasana can be rough on the upper body for new Yogis, this is a great alternative. This pose is also one of the first poses to really work on for inversions. In fact, this pose is often called Ardha Sirsasana or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana since it is half way to these advanced inversion Asanas. Today we will try Sun Salutations with Shisulasana, and perhaps try some toe taps for those Yogis who want to try to work into inversions!

PS I am currently working into more advanced arm balances and inversions.. it has taken me many years to build enough upper arm strength, and inversion and balance Asanas are the most challenging on my Asana journey. I have heard what we avoid we most need to learn, so I will include my experiences as I safely work these in to my practice!

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to again perform the traditional Asana series – Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations. Today, we will do the full series three times on each side, coming into Shisulasana / Dolphin Pose rather than Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog. I find it a bit easier to come into Dolphin from Salamba Bhujangasana / Sphinx since my forearms are already grounded. Jump to today’s variations!

Shisulasana – Dolphin Pose

Shisulasana – Dolphin Pose

Feet – Your feet should still be about hip distance apart. Coming from either Bhujangasana / Cobra or Sambhala Bhujangasana / Sphinx, your feet will flip and you will end with the balls of both feet on the mat, reaching your heels towards the mat. You can bring your feet a bit closer in to help your heels start reaching the mat. It is very difficult for heels to reach the mat when hamstrings are very tight, so be gentle with yourself in this pose, and perhaps walk your feet in or walk the dog into this pose.

Legs – Keep your legs straight and make sure you do not hyperextend your knees. Perhaps walk your legs back and forth a bit, since you may want a bit of a different angle than you are used to in Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog.

Hips – On the EXHALE you lift your hips up to the ceiling/sky to come into this Asana. Try to keep your hips pointing up and back, as you lightly press your chest back towards your thighs to deepen this stretch.

Arms – The main difference between Shisulasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana is Dolphin’s bent elbows. I enter this pose from Sphinx or Table Top by clasping my hands together into one fist, and pressing my fist and my forearms into the mat as I lift my hips. Once you are comfortable in this pose, you can release your hands and press palms firmly into the mat.

Head and Neck – Keep your head and neck neutral, and either close your eyes or gaze gently down at your mat or legs.

Shisulasana – Dolphin Pose Variations

If you would like to try the inversion work, try some toe taps in Shisulasana! Make sure your forearms stay grounded, and lift one leg up, keeping your hips centered. Try some hip circles as high as your leg will go, touch toe down a couple times, and repeat on the other side on the next round of Sun Salutations. The next step working into inversions is to practice falling, but you will want to work on building balance and strength in Shisulasana for quite a while before ‘taking off’ on inversions!

Shisulasana Toe Taps

Please comment to share your experience with this exercise! Have you practiced Shisulasana before? Do you include inversions in your current practice? Always remember, be kind!

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One thought on “Shisulasana – Dolphin Pose

  1. I have been working on inversions myself as well. Slowly building my arm strength up for handstands. I enjoyed the Sphinx to Dolphin, it’s a great transition.

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