Locust I Shalabhasana

The locust posture strengthens the entire torso including the lower back and the neck. In addition, it strengthens the buttocks and the legs and improves digestion and elimination.

To clench or not to clench: That is the question

An ongoing controversy in the Yoga world is "Should the buttocks be firm or soft in the cobra?" The traditional instruction is to firm the buttocks. However, the work of New Zealand-born physiotherapist Robin McKenzie has revolutionized back care — and ideas about back bends. In his own version of the cobra, called

The McKenzie Technique, McKenzie suggests that the buttocks be soft to facilitate the healing of numerous lower back ailments. Try the cobra both ways, with the buttocks firm or soft, and see which feels best to you. Note: This discussion applies to cobra only; in all the locust postures, the buttocks are usually tight.

To try this first locust posture, follow these steps:

1. Lie on your abdomen with your legs spread at hip width and the tops of your feet on the floor; rest your forehead on the floor.

2. Extend your arms along the sides of your torso with your palms on the floor.

3. As you inhale, raise your chest, head, and one leg up and away from the floor as high as is comfortable for you (see Figure 11-4a).

Figure 11-4:

Raise your chest, head, and leg on an inhale, using a blanket if necessary.

Consider trying this posture with blankets for more personal comfort. Figure 11-4b shows you the basic blanket positioning, though you can shift it as necessary.

4. As you exhale, lower your chest, head, and leg together slowly to the floor and repeat Steps 3 and 4 with the other leg.

5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 three times and then stay in Step 3 (the last raised position) for 6 to 8 breaths.

You can increase the level of difficulty by raising both legs at the same time in

Step 3.

Note: In the classic posture, the inner legs are joined, the knees are straight.

Lessons in Raja Yoga

Lessons in Raja Yoga

An easy to understand book on the principles and practices of Raja-Yoga alike. It teaches the eight steps

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