Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dolphin Plank Pose)

English Name(s)
Dolphin Plank Pose
Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana
Makāra Adho Mukha Śvānāsana / मकरअधोमुख श्वानासन
MAH-kar-ah ah-doh moo-kuh SVAH-NAH-sah-nah
makara: “crocodile”
adhas: “down”
mukha: “facing”
svana: “dog”
āsana: “posture”

Dolphin Plank Pose is strengthens and tones the entire body, from the toes to the abdominals and right up into the head. It is an intermediate pose that requires body awareness in terms of alignment in the pose. It requires strong arms, core and legs to achieve the full expression of the pose.

This pose is an excellent preparation for Dolphin Pose, as well as headstand and other inversions, because you are building a strong foundation in the arms and shoulders.

The pose is also great for warming up the muscles to attempt high plank or side plank pose.

Physical Benefits

Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana strengthens the arms and legs, tones the abdominal muscles, and engages all the muscles in the back. The pose also stretches and tones the muscles in the feet and legs.

Dolphin Plank is one of the most effective poses for strengthening all of the abdominal muscles: Transverse, Rectus, Quadratus Lumborum and the Obliques. As it strengthens the back muscles at the same time, it is fast and effective for getting stronger all over.

The pose also lengthens your spine, creating strength and flexibility at the same time. The pose is also a weight-bearing exercise that can prevent osteoporosis, when used in combination with a healthy diet, fresh air and plenty of water.

Energetic Benefits

The pose improves digestion, increases circulation, and stimulates the respiratory system. The pose is quite rejuvenating as it quickly increases blood flow in the body. Any pose that quickly increases blood flow can bring you into a meditative state quite quickly, thus bringing additional benefits.

Practicing Dolphin Plank Pose can bring calmness, peace of mind and focus to the practitioner. This pose can give you an outlet for the high-frequency energies of anxiety, stress, frustration, and anger. It can give you a physical challenge that can get you out of your own head filled with unproductive thoughts.

You will also notice that the pose helps with stamina and endurance by helping you get into the right mindset to hold the pose, even when it feels hard. When you practice and break through things that are difficult in your yoga practice, you cultivate the same kind of mindset to enter into your daily life. You begin to take your yoga “off the mat”.


People suffering with recent or recurring issues or injuries in the wrists, shoulders or back should refrain or practice caution when practicing the pose.

Going into the Pose

Meera Watts
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes, and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali), and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).

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