Salabhasana, or the "Locust Pose," is often performed in two variations—one following the other. The first is a single-leg Locust Pose, commonly referred to as the "Half Locust Pose" (ardha-salabhasana—ardha means "half"), followed by a full "Locust Pose" (salabhasana). This asana gives a particularly powerful stretch to the entire back of the body, including both the back and the legs. It also helps to tone the buttocks and abdominal organs.
To perform Half Locust Pose, lie flat on your belly on your mat or on a comfortable padded surface, arms at the sides. Your legs and feet should be together and in contact with the ground, your toes pointed behind you. Your chin should be resting on the floor so that the face remains in a neutral position. Make fists with your hands. Gently rock your pelvis and hips from side to side as you slide your fists under your pelvis. Your knuckles are facing toward the ground and the inside surface of your forearms is facing toward the ceiling. If this position is uncomfortable for you, try placing your hands flat on the ground under your pelvis, or hands and arms alongside your body. In whichever variation you choose, extend the fingers so that the hands provide more active support. Let your upper torso remain tight and active.
With an inhalation, slowly contract the right buttock as you extend your right leg and begin to draw it back and up. Initiate the movement from the toes and ball of the feet, as though they are pulling and stretching the leg. Keep your right leg straight and lift it as high as you can while making sure that your left leg remains securely placed on the floor and your hips remain even (see Fig. 13.7a). Hold it in this position for several breaths or longer if it is comfortable. When you are ready to release the leg, exhale and slowly return your right leg to its base starting position.
If you are a beginner, repeat Half Locust Pose once again on each side of the body. If you are an intermediate practitioner or more advanced, do Half Locust on each side as many times as you wish.
After completing ardha-salabhasana (Half Locust Pose) with each leg, you are ready to execute salabhasana, full, or double-leg, Locust Pose. Begin with the same body placement as for Half Locust: lie flat on your belly; legs and feet together; chin on the floor; fists under your pelvis, or hands under your pelvis or by your sides.
With an inhalation, contract the buttocks muscles and slowly extend both legs and begin to draw them back and up. Your legs and feet are touching. Initiate the movement from the toes and balls of the feet as though they are pulling and stretching the leg. Keep your legs straight and extended and lift them as high as you can. Press down on your hands to allow you to get an extra lift and stretch in the back area, particularly in the lower back (see Fig. 13.7b). Maintain this full Locust Pose for as long as it is comfortable. When you are ready to release from this asana, exhale and slowly return both legs to the floor. Turn your head to one side. Breathe. Rest and relax. You're doing a great job. Take a moment to acknowledge what a great job you're doing
Locust Pose is a powerful backward bending exercise that is often included in a basic yoga practice. You can practice Locust Pose either independently to tone the back and buttocks, or include it in your "Complete Yoga Session" as one of the backward bending exercises, along with, or in place of, the Cobra and Bow Poses.
Fig. 13.7b: Locust Pose
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