Salabhasana: Locust Pose
An effective way to strengthen muscles in the back body, Locust pose, or Salabhasana (sha-la-BAHS-anna), is an approachable introduction to backbends. Because it creates strength and endurance in the torso, legs, and arms, Salabhasana is a foundational pose that helps the physical body prepare for more advanced and challenging backbends. Of course, Locust pose isn’t easy. By refining the actions that take place in this posture, students unlock the mysteries behind many other postures, including Dhanurasana.
Philosophy + Origin
Those familiar with the Biblical symbolism of locusts may be challenged to move past negative connotations, but there are plenty of positive world views about locusts and grasshoppers that can help guide you as you practice Salabhasana. As a symbol of good luck and abundance in Chinese culture, harnessing the power of the grasshopper or locust encourages you to take chances and leaps of faith. Sometimes associated with astral travel, locusts symbolize the ability to overcome fear and move in the direction of positive change. Vocal, grasshoppers also use the power of sound to heal and to change states of consciousness.
- You can keep the tops of the feet and thighs on the ground to reduce the intensity of this posture.
- For students with neck pain or injuries, place a block under the forehead to reduce muscle strain while still keeping the head elevated.
- Use a rolled blanket to support the tops of the thighs or sternum for beginning students.
- Lift legs one at a time to reduce intensity.
- To increase the intensity of the posture, interlace your hands behind your back to feel more of a stretch across the chest and shoulders.
- For a deeper backbend, bend the knees as you lift up into Locust and then extend the feet and legs straight up as much as possible.
- A close relative to Salabhasana, Makarasana, or Sea Monster Pose, challenges the body by interlacing the hands at the base of the skull and then practicing Locust pose in the same way with the rest of the body.
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:
- Back, neck, spine injuries
As you get started with Locust pose, it’s helpful to practice with the hands on the ground in order to get the proper lift of the chest. Unlike Cobra Pose, you’ll want to place your hands back behind your shoulders, closer to your waist. While you don’t want to push too firmly into the hands, you can gently push into the palms to lift the upper torso and chest. Take a few breaths with the hands down before trying to swing them back into the full expression of the pose. If you lose height in doing so, keep strengthening the muscles of the back with the hands on the mat.
- Begin lying on your stomach with the arms extended down by your sides, palms facing up. Allow your forehead to rest naturally on the floor and your big toes to point towards each other in order to achieve internal rotation of the thighs. Here on the floor, begin pressing your coccyx toward your pubis bone.
- As you exhale, raise your head, chest, arms and legs off the floor. Engage the muscles of the legs by firming your glutes and reaching through the toes. Your arms should be parallel with the ground and, just like your toes, you should reach actively through your fingers. Firm your shoulder blades against your spine. There should be a balance between extending out from the center of the body and lifting up.
Lift your gaze up without craning your neck. The chin should be in a position so that the back of the neck stays long and comfortable. Breathe evenly as you work to maintain the posture for up to 60 seconds. Take rest and repeat twice more.
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- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
- Supta Virasana
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Salamba Sarvangasana
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
- Salabha = Locust, Grasshopper
- Asana = Pose
- Strengthens muscles of the back, arms and legs
- Stretches muscles of the chest, shoulders and abdomen
- Prepares the body for deeper backbends
- Improves overall posture
- Improves constipation, flatulence, indigestion, lower back pain
- Increases the flow of energy in the body
- Helps overcome negative thought patterns and obstacles
The Ganesha mantra can be repeated out loud or to yourself in order to increase positive energy and remove obstacles from your life. To practice, chant, “Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha”.
Practicing Ganesha mudra will help you overcome obstacles in your life by increasing your courage. To practice, position your left hand so that it’s level with your sternum, palm facing away and pinky finger up. Place your right hand in front of the left so that your palms face each other. Clasp your fingers and forcefully begin to pull the hands apart as you exhale, without releasing the clasp. With your inhalation, release the tension while keeping the mudra intact. Repeat at least six times for maximum benefits. This is a great mudra to practice in preparation for meditation.
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