Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dolphin Plank Pose): Meaning, How to Do, Benefits

Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana (dolphin plank pose)
Image source: Canva
Sanskrit PronunciationMakara Adho Mukha Svanasana
(MAH-kar-ah ah-doh moo-kuh SVAH-NAH-sah-nah)
MeaningMakara= crocodile/ Adho= down/ Mukha= facing, svana= dog/ Asana= posture”
Pose TypeProne
Pose LevelIntermediate
AnatomyArms, Shoulders, Lower Back, Core (Abs), and Legs
Other NamesDolphin plank pose
Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana information

Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana aka Dolphin plank pose is a yogic way of strengthening the body head-to-toe. This arm balancing pose gives a break to your wrists from the daily chores.

It is an intermediate level variation of basic dolphin pose as it balances the entire body weight on the forearms and toes. Hence, the Dolphin plank pose targets muscles of the core, shoulders, arms, and upper back.

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    Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana is quite similar to the plank pose with the only difference of balancing the weight on the forearms rather than hands. Therefore, only the toes and the forearms lie on the floor while the entire body is lifted and aligned straight.

    Besides strengthening and toning the body, practicing Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana opens the path of enlightenment focusing on activating energy chakras.


    Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana Practice Guide

    Prepare yourself for this balancing posture understanding its pros and cons and following the given practice guide.


    • Avoid this pose if you have an injury around the spine, back, and neck muscles.
    • People with high blood pressure must skip Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana.
    • Do not try this pose if you have an infection in your eye or ear.
    • It is best to avoid people with osteoporosis.
    • In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is suggested to practice Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana taking the knee support.

    Preparatory Poses

    How to Do Adho Mukha Svanasana

    Makara-Adho-Mukha-Svanasana how to do
    Image Source: Canva
    1. Lie down in the prone position keeping the wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
    2. Now, lower your elbows to the floor stacking them under the shoulders to place the forearms parallel to each other.
    3. Curl your toes and bring your heels together lifting the thighs, hips, chest, and core off the floor.
    4. Contract the abdomen and draw your pelvic floor muscles towards the spine.
    5. In the final position, the head is aligned with the body gaze is fixed on the floor.
    6. Stay in this pose for 5-10 breaths and then release lowering the hips and knees to the floor.

    Follow-up Poses


    • While holding the pose, keep the shoulders relaxed and away from the shoulders.
    • For the proper alignment of the neck muscles, keep your gaze slightly forward on the floor.
    • Beware of collapsing through the upper back and hips to the floor.
    • Do not drop the chin towards the chest.

    Beginner’s Tips

    • Beginners can grasp the hands in front of the head forming an inverted V with forearms for convenience.
    • Place folded blankets under the elbows to provide a smooth surface under the elbows.

    Props and Modifications

    • Yoga block– Rest your head over a yoga block while balancing the body in the final pose. This brings extra support to your body lifted body.
    • Trying plank pose as a replacement would be an easier alteration if someone is struggling while practicing dolphin plank pose.


    1. Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana Raising one Leg

    For this variation, after balancing the body on the forearms and toes, breathe deeply to lift one leg. While raising the leg, press your heel towards the sky. Lower the leg back to the floor while exhaling and repeat it on the alternative leg.

    2. Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana Hand Variation

    Here, the body posture remains lifted a few inches off the floor balanced on the forearms. After that, join the palms in a prayer position or clasp the fingers together to enhance the stretch on the shoulders.

    Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana Benefits

    1. Tones the arms

    Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana stretches the shoulders and entire arm muscles. Balancing the body on the forearms exerts pressure on shoulders and elbows. It strengthens the forearms, upper arms, relaxes the wrists, and tones the arm muscles.

    2. Strengthen the legs

    The lower body also remains lifted off the floor except for the toes. In the final posture, the arches are activated, the calves, and hamstring muscles also stretched. It increases the flexibility and strength of the leg muscles.

    3. Activates the core

    It seems as entire work is being performed by the forearms and toes while balancing in this pose. However, the core muscles are also kept engaged constantly. It contracts the abdominal muscles and tones the abdominal organs.

    This also serves as a workout for burning the fat around the belly. Therefore, performing Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana is an excellent stretching pose to get a toned body and flat belly.

    4. Improves posture

    This pose is performed by keeping the back erect and aligning the body from head-to-toe. This enhances the strength of the back muscles and also rectifies any postural defect.

    5. Good for digestion

    Since the abdominal muscles experience pressure holding the pose. It enhances the blood flow to this region. It facilitates better functioning of the digestive organs and induces secretion of enzymes and digestive juices. Thus, it aids in improving digestion.

    6. Calms the mind

    Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana is a rejuvenating posture enhancing blood circulation, stamina, and endurance. It lets you go beyond your limits and helps you to overcome the mental blocks and hurdles elevating the mental perception.

    Also, supplies oxygen-rich blood to the nervous system, hence, cures depression, anxiety, or any mental stress or issues.

    7. Develops spirituality

    As this pose stretches the upper body especially the back and neck muscles, thus, works on the entire spine starting from the crown of the head. This stimulates the crown (Sahasrara) chakra. Also, it is performed focusing on a particular point on the ground. This helps in awakening the third-eye (Ajna) chakra.

    The stimulation and opening of these two energy chakras lead the practitioner to enlightenment. It connects you to the supreme power and also enables you to tap into your intuitive abilities.


    It’s time to try this pose to feel the joy rushing through the body by activating all the muscles and elevating energy levels.

    Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana is a pose that everyone must-go for to lead their yogic practice to the ultimate goal of spirituality and combine with the supreme soul.

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