Let us focus on one of the most interesting poses: the Locust! It’s name derives from the Sanskrit words “Salabha” (locust) and “Asana” (position), and belongs to the group of backbends for beginners, preparing the person to more articulate backbends.
Even though it looks easy at a first glance, some people have some difficulties practicing it, especially because of the movement of the neck.
It is an useful pose to strengthen your back and all the upper body, and it leads to other interesting poses that we will see in the next articles.
Let us jump into it!
We recommend to use a pad or a blanket for this pose, as your belly and pelvis will touch the ground and may hurt you, unless you have the pad.
An useful gear can be the yoga brick, or yoga block, to put under your legs or chin, if you need an additional sustain for the body; you will remove them when you feel comfortable with the position.
Lay down on your belly, with your arms along side your body and the forehead that touches the floor. Let your big toes touch each other, so your tights are rotating.
Lift your chin and upper torso, using your palms to push and help you lift the upper body (do not push too much, you do not want to hurt your back), take few long breaths, then go back to the resting position.
Once more, lift your chin and back, pushing with your palms, after a long breath lift your legs, using your pelvis as the center of gravity. Keep your palms on the floor, breathe few times, then slowly go back to the resting position.
Again, lift your chin and torso, lift your legs after few breaths, then slowly lift your palms from the floor, palms up and spread the fingertips. The only part of your body that lays on the yoga pad will be the pelvis, which means you have to use your buttocks and lower back muscles.
After few breaths, rest a bit, laying down and shaking your hips a bit.
Finally, exhale and slowly lift all the parts of the body involved (chin, torso, legs and palms) at once and keep the position for 30-60 seconds. While in this position, slowly move your neck left and right to strengthen these muscles. After few breaths, go back to the resting pose.
After this exercise, remember to counteract the position, walking the knees into the center of the pad, bringing the belly to the thighs and sinking your body back (better known as the Child Pose).
The Locust Pose gives many option to make it more challenging or simple, depending on the level of the user.
If the pose is too difficult, or you want to start with something more simple, you can put your hands underneath your shoulders, looping your shoulders back, then lift your chin and torso, supporting the stretch with your arms (remember not to push too much, or you might hurt your spine).
You can also use a rolled-up blanket to support the lift of your torso, or to help the lift of your legs.
If you want to make the pose harder, instead of laying your arms along side the torso, you can reach your arms forward while you have torso and legs lifted, hold the position for one minute, slowly breathing, then rest.
Pros & Cons
This pose offers great benefits for the user: it strengthens many parts of the body, especially the muscles of the spine, neck, buttocks, the back of arms and legs.
It is useful to stretch shoulders, neck, chest and belly, and to improve the posture, as it forces to pull your shoulders back.
The Locust pose is ideal for users with lower back pain and with fatigue, constipation or indigestion problems.
However, users with frequent headache, back or neck injuries must be cautious, as this position may be harmful for them.
An useful tip for students with neck injuries might be to keep the their head to a neutral position, lifting the legs only, or supporting the forehead with a rolled-up blanket.
After having mastered the Locust pose, you have access to other interesting variations, which are focused on the same areas of the body (especially the back, neck and buttocks).
The first one we recommend is the Crocodile Pose (or Sea Monster Pose, depending on the translation); the original name is Makarasa, and it is a variation of the Locust Pose in which your chin rests on your arms and your legs are wide open, but we will talk about it on another article.
Strengthening your back will be a lot helpful when you move to more advanced poses, like the Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana), which requires you to lift all the lower part of the body, in a “candle” style.
Salabhasana can also be useful if you have troubles with one of the most important yoga poses, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, known as the Bridge Pose.
If you work with a partner, he/she can help you gently lifting your torso or legs. They can also make the pose more challenging, pushing with their arms your triceps and forcing you to counter the resistance.
We highly recommend you to interchange these poses, as each of them activates specific positions and muscles, and also to get used to every position you try.
Salabhasana is a great choice to strengthen a wide variety of muscles of your body, it offers many options to choose, depending on your level, and leads to other similar positions.
Make sure to avoid exaggerate movements: this pose can cause neck and back injuries, so always find a position that gives you moderate tension on your body.
We hope you find this position simple and effective and that you understood all the steps the Locust Pose requires.