Śalabhasana or Locust Pose is a prone back bend that is great for strengthening the back body. This is a simple back bend that is accessible to the beginner as well as the advanced yoga practitioner. If you are someone who feels like you could have better posture or you spend more time sitting at a desk than you care to admit, this is a great pose to practice! Here are some of the numerous benefits!
- Improves posture
- Strengthens the spine and back muscles
- Strengthens the legs
- Rejuvenates the body
- Relieves stress and calms the mind
- Stimulates abdominal organs and digestion
- Relieves lower back pain and sciatica
To practice this pose, begin laying on the floor prone (belly down). Let your arms reach back by your sides, palms face down, and rest the forehead or chin on the floor. Zip the legs together as much as possible while keeping them on the floor for now.
With an inhale, begin to lift the hands, arms, rib cage, chest and head off the floor. Keep the back of the neck long and spacious (no need to look forward). If this feels good on the back and you’d like a little more, keep the legs close together and lift the legs off the floor. One of the challenges with the legs is keeping the knees straight. The lift comes from the hamstrings and glutes instead of the knees. Actively spreading the toes helps to protect the low back. Now breathe!
To refine the pose really work on extension of the crown of the head and the heart space forward and feel the balanced effects of the extension of the legs and feet backward. Keep engaging space between the toes to keep the low back safe and happy. The abdominals, while on the floor, can actively be engaged to give even more support to the low back.
Ways you can modify the pose:
- If lifting the upper body and lower body at the same time feel like too much for your back try lifting one or the other – just the torso and arms with the legs grounded or just the legs with the head, hands, and torso on the ground.
- Explore various positions with the hands. Generally, we practice the pose with the palms down. What changes for you if you flip the palms up towards the ceiling or clasp the hands behind the back in yoga mudra (similar to a chest expansion)?