‘Shalabhasana’ is known as the ‘Locust Post’. Popularly known for being a preparatory pose for more challenging backbends, Shalabhasana gets its name from ‘Locust’ or ‘Grasshopper’. The locust pose yoga asana particularly works on strengthening the back, and improves spinal strength and flexibility.
The locust pose yoga brings balance and alignment to the mooladhara chakra (the root chakra), which lies at the base of the spine. Thus, this posture is associated with making one feel grounded, secure and stable. It also helps stimulate the manipura chakra, located at the naval center, due to the pressure on the abdomen. This is known to boost inner strength and confidence as well.
What are the benefits of Locust Pose
The locust pose benefits include activating the parasympathetic nerves in the lower spinal region. It removes pressure from the sciatic nerve and provides relief from backache and slipped disc. It improves flexibility of the back, and strengthens it as well. However, if you are suffering from slip disc, it is best to practice with extreme caution. It improves the function of the abdominal organs, especially the lower abdomen, and has a toning effect on the liver. It also improves appetite. The asana strengthens the lower back muscles and glutes, and improves blood supply to the lower back and neck muscles, relieving stiffness in this region. The locust pose benefits also include strengthening the pelvic region. It is one of the best preparatory poses for stronger backbends.
Position type: Lying Down(Back or Front)/ Prone
Spinal bend type: Backbend
Ideal for: Strength
Targets: Lower Back
Pose level: Beginner
How can you prepare for Locust Pose
Lower back strength and flexibility
Since Shalabhasana itself is a preparatory pose, practicing other backbends like cobra pose, camel pose and forward bends like seated forward bend and standing forward fold will help in improving strength and flexibility.
Developing strength will help hold the asana for longer. Regular practice of a few postures like the triangle pose, the warrior series, boat pose and plank are good for this.
How to practice Locust Pose
Getting into the posture
- Lie down on the stomach. Keep the forehead on the ground and arms stretched back, beside the thighs
- Breathing in, lift up both legs, hands, chest and head off the ground. Keep the legs straight and do not twist the hip.
- Hold and keep breathing. Make sure you look straight, keeping the neck long.
- Hold the asana with your core muscles, and keep the thighs engaged.
Getting out of the posture
- Breathe out and slowly bring the legs down. Relax in Makarasana for a few breaths.
Key alignments in Locust Pose
- Hold the arms straight, close to each other and under the body for better foundation.
- Make sure you lift the thighs off the floor, even if it is by just a few centimeters.
- Keep the legs together with knees straight.
- Engage the abdominal wall to support the contraction at the lower back.
What are the contraindications of Locust Pose
Anyone suffering from a weak heart, high BP or hernia should avoid the asana. Also, if you have slip disc or back pain, it is best to be extremely careful and practice with a teacher.
What are the counter poses for Locust Pose?
Practice Child’s pose (Shashankasana) for a few breaths. You can also lie down in the Crocodile pose (Makarasana) and relax here for a few deep breaths.
Locust Pose variations
- As a beginner, you can practice the asana with only one leg, instead of two (Ardha Shalabhasana).
- You can also keep the arms on the mat if you need support.
Keep the chin on the floor and lift the legs, lower body and abdomen so far up and towards the legs that it looks like the letter “C”. This extreme position is called Viparita Shalabhasana.
Advice for beginners
If it is difficult to hold the asana for long, try starting with Ardha Shalabhasana (half locust pose). Once you are comfortable here, you can try the full Shalabhasana.
Practice Tips for Locust Pose
If it is difficult to lift the torso and legs both, begin by placing your hands on the floor, a little bit back from the shoulders, closer to your waist. As you inhale, gently push your hands against the floor and slowly lift the torso. Then, place the hands as you would for the pose, and slowly come into the posture.
Initially you might be able to keep the legs up only for a few breaths. Start slow, and with practice you will be able to hold for longer. Do not let the hip turn or the legs go too wide apart. Do not raise the shoulders towards the ears. Make sure you keep your neck long. Make sure the knees are also straight and not bending as this might add pressure to your lower back.