Locust pose, also known as Salabhasana, is a level 1 (beginning) backbend asana that can help you work up to other, more challenging backbend poses. It is easily modified for yogis with physical limitations.
Performing Locust Pose
The starting position for locust pose is lying prone on your stomach with your arms at your sides and your forehead resting lightly on your mat. Keep your legs extended behind you with your feet about hip-width apart, tops of feet on the mat.
- As you inhale, raise your head from the mat and direct your eyes at a point straight in front of you.
- Exhale and lift your chest and arms from the mat, maintaining your head and leg position.
- Holding this position with your upper body, inhale and, lifting with your inner thighs, raise your legs from the mat until your weight rests on your stomach, pelvis, and the bottom part of your ribs.
- Breathing evenly, extend your arms backwards, reaching towards your feet, with arms and hands parallel to the floor and your palms facing your body.
- Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths before releasing gently to the floor and returning to your starting position.
This asana is easily modified for different skill levels.
- If you are a beginner or find the final pose difficult, only perform the pose with your upper body or your lower body at one time. Do this by either keeping the upper body on the floor and raising the legs, or keeping the tops of the feet and legs on the floor and raising the upper body. Continue with this modification until you are able to complete the full pose.
- For people with back pain, you can modify the pose by keeping the head resting on the floor, placing the hands and forearms underneath your ribs while lying atop them, and lifting a single leg at a time.
- For help with lifting your torso off the floor, you can press up with your hands, keeping your feet on the floor, to strengthen core muscles and stretch the shoulders, abdominals, and back.
- To deepen the stretch, extend your arms out to the side, parallel to the floor but perpendicular to your body as you hold the pose.
- You can also deepen the stretch and strengthen the core even more by extending your arms forward, parallel to the floor above your head.
According to Yoga Journal, the benefits of Salabhasana include:
- Improves posture
- Strengthens and stretches muscles of the core
- Stretches shoulders and thighs
- Provides stress release
- Stimulates abdominal organs
Locust pose stimulates and helps balance the first chakra (root chakra or Muladhara), which is located at the base of your spine. The root chakra helps to keep you grounded and improves feelings of safety and security. Imbalances of this chakra may cause anxiety or fears. Keeping it in balance can help you recognize your oneness with the universe.
A Beginning Backbend
Locust pose is perfect for beginning yogis who wish to work their way up to more difficult backbend asanas. Performing this pose will provide you with a host of benefits for body, mind, and spirit.