Locust pose or salabhasana is an intermediate backbend that serves to tone and strengthen the entire back. It fosters correct alignment for effortless deepening of backbends. It basically preps a beginner for deeper backbends and yoga asanas, including the challenging wheel pose that stretches and opens the entire body. It can help you with other asanas, but don’t ignore the benefits of locust pose!
While the classic version of locust pose offers various benefits, it is crucial to acknowledge the restorative variation, especially for beginners managing issues like stiffness, inflammation or digestive problems, says Shivani Bajwa, a yoga and wellness coach. She advocates starting with the restorative version, employing props to enhance the experience and address specific limitations.
How to do locust pose the classic way?
• As you lay on your belly on a yoga mat on the floor, exhale, lifting head, arms and legs off the ground.
• Maintain firm buttocks while stretching your back.
• Visualise a weight pressing down your upper arms.
• Perform a push-up against resistance.
• Lift your skull toward the back of your neck without protruding your chin.
• Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, exhale to release then repeat the process two or three times.
What is the restorative style of locust pose?
• Explore hip extension in ardha salabhasana (half locust pose) and put a bolster on the mat.
• Lie down with pelvis and chest on the bolster, using a block under the forehead if necessary.
• Point toes, place feet on the floor and lift up thighs.
• Experiment with lifting one leg at a time and then both legs simultaneously.
• Lift the legs higher than the hips, paying attention to any changes in the lower back.
What are the benefits of locust pose
While locust pose is good for your back, it offers more health benefits.
1. Strengthens lower back
This yoga asana targets and tones your lower back muscles, countering the effects of prolonged sitting, says Bajwa.
2. Tones the glutes
It engages and strengthens the gluteal muscles that help to support lower back while lifting something, and prevent knee injuries during exercises like running.
3. Improves posture
Locust pose encourages proper spinal alignment, which helps to open up the chest as well as shoulders.
4. Stimulates abdominal organs
It engages and stimulates abdominal organs, helping with digestion, which is crucial for breaking down food into nutrients that can be used for our growth, energy and cell repair.
5. Stimulates the nervous system
The asana has a positive impact on the sacral and lumbar regions, potentially alleviating stress and fatigue.
6. Improves respiratory function
Locust pose helps to open up the chest, so it allows for deeper breaths and enhanced respiratory capacity.
7. Builds mental focus
This asana requires concentration, so while doing it, it can help you with mindfulness and mental clarity.
Who should avoid locust pose?
Locust pose has many benefits, but it may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with:
• Severe or recent back injuries
• Pregnant women, especially in later stages
• Uncontrolled high blood pressure
• Recent abdominal surgery
• Wrist or shoulder injuries
• Migraines or headaches
What are some popular variations of locust pose?
Locust pose has some interesting variations too!
• One-legged locust pose (Eka pada salabhasana) for which you just need to lift one leg off the mat for focused engagement.
• Floating locust pose for which you need to lift your limbs without resting on the mat.
• Interlaced fingers variation for which you have to interlace your fingers behind your back for an added shoulder stretch.
These variations offer many challenges, so do them if you are up for them!