Locust
ŚALABHĀSANA (शलभासन)
(shah-la-BHAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Śalabha’= locust or grasshopper, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Shalabhasana
Salambhasana
Grasshopper Pose

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Back-Bend / Prone / Stretch / Balance

1. Lay on your belly in prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana), with your legs close together (about hip distance apart) and parallel, arms by your sides with palms face up, and your face down with your forehead on the mat.
2. Keeping your pelvis and belly rooted to the mat, engage your core and back muscles, and raise your head, chest, and shoulders off the mat. Use your quadriceps and squeeze your inner thighs and buttocks to raise your feet and shins off the mat.
3. Lift your arms off the mat, keeping your shoulders down and back with your shoulder blades drawn together. Open your chest, and lengthen your back, as you bring your head up to gaze straight forward. Alternatively, students can gaze slightly down and forward.
4. Keep the throat soft, the back of the neck long, and your toes pointed behind you. Use your core and squeeze your buttocks and quadriceps, to keep your chest and shins off the mat, while maintaining your balance.
5. Hold for several breaths (about 20 seconds to build strengthen) and then release, relaxing back into a prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana).

Common Adjustments
• Neck and shoulders strained / Shoulders forward or up by the ears
• Chest not lifted / Shoulders not broadened
• Legs not lifted / Knees not extended
• Legs too far apart or too close together
• Arms not lifted at the sides
• Buttocks not firm
• Lift is uneven throughout the body / Not lifting legs from the hips
• Pelvis lifting off the mat

Modifications
• Students who experience lower abdominal discomfort can either: a) place a folded blanket below the pelvic area or under the rib cage or b) place a bolster or folder blanket under the thighs.
• To support and balance the legs, students can place their palms below their thighs. *Be careful not to injure your wrists.
• Students who have trouble balancing, or have difficulty lifting the legs, can lift just the shoulder, chest, and arms. Alternatively, if students have trouble lifting the chest, they can practice Half Locust (Ardha Salabhasana) by resting their forehead on the mat, pressing their hands into the mat (their hands can be on the side or under the hips), and lifting their legs. They can either lift both legs or one at a time.
• Students who need to reduce stress on the lower back, abdomen, and chest can practice Cobra (Bhujangasana) while lifting both legs, or one leg at a time. These options reduce the stretch while still encouraging an upper back arch and building strength.
• Students with sciatica can widen their legs to reduce the stress on the lower back and sciatic nerves.
• Students with neck injury should keep their necks neutral by looking down. They can also support the forehead on a folded blanket or bolster.
• For advanced students, they can either: a) extend their arms our straight in front of the body, b) place their hands interlaced behind their back in Venus Lock, or c) bend their knees, moving the feet toward the buttocks, so that they are perpendicular to the floor. In option c, they can try to lift the knees as far off the floor as possible along with the chest and shoulders. They can also enhance this option further by trying to extend their legs up toward the sky or toward their head.

Counter Poses
• Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
• Downward Facing Hero (Adha Mukha Virasana)
• Corpse (Savasana) or Reverse Corpse (Advasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana) or Wide Child’s Pose (Prasarita Balasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Dolphin (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
• Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
• Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
• Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
• Plow (Halasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Biceps and Triceps
• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques• Upper (Cervical) and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Hips (Iliopsoas)• Gluteus Maximus (Glutes)
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the neck, shoulders, chest, spine, biceps, triceps, abdomen, hips, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thighs, calf muscles, and ankles. Also increases flexibility in the back.
• Opens the chest, throat, and shoulders as well as improves posture / alignment and lengthens the spine.
• Relieves anxiety, fear, migraines / stress related headaches, insomnia / nervous exhaustion, fatigue, and reduces stress by loosening the muscles and increasing circulation. It also calms the nervous system and helps concentration by holding the pose. This also energizes the brain and mind by bringing blood to the brain which improves focus and concentration and promotes calmness.
• Stimulates the parasympathetic nerves in the lower back.
• Relieves pressure on the sciatic nerves giving relief to minor backache and slipped disc discomfort.
• Removes stiffness around the neck, lower back, and legs.
• Massages the abdominal muscles, which improve digestion, stimulates the reproductive system, and soothes menstrual discomfort. This also aids students with constipation problems and flatulence.
• Improves circulation through the small and large intestines, kidneys, and spleen.
• Great starter pose for deeper back bends.

Contraindications
1. Students with a prolapsed uterus, are pregnant, had abdominal surgery, have menstruation problems, have severe back pain or slipped disc, have a back or arm injury, have a headache, or have blood pressure problems should avoid this pose.
2. Students should be conscious to ensure they are maintaining a smooth controlled breath.
3. Students with sciatica should use caution, seek guidance, and use modifications and props.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Shalabhasana – Locust Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Shalabhasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, this posture can be found in Chapter 12 – PRONE POSES as “SALABHASANA – Locust Pose”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the hands are out in front (instead of arms by the side).
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 12 – PRONE POSES as “VIPARITA SALABHASANA – Full Locust Pose”. **This textbook shows a variation where you balance on the upper chest (instead of balancing on the pelvis). This variation is typically more ideal for intermediate to advanced practitioners.

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