Salabhasana (The Locust) posture and benefits

Salabhasana (locust pose)
Salabhasana or Shalabhasana (Sanskrit: शलभासन) or Locust Pose or Grasshopper Pose is an asana.
Its name is derived from Sanskrit word salaba, means locust.
It is a form of back bend, or spine stretch, using the strength of the upper and middle back to lift the weight of the legs as high as possible from a starting position face down on the floor. Most people find Salabhasana to be a very “strong” i.e. difficult and challenging posture to practice, and as such it not only improves flexibility and coordination, but also has strength and stamina benefits

Beginners may find that their shoulder and elbow flexibility is not sufficient to allow them to get the hands palm down right underneath the body, or that it is quite uncomfortable or even slightly painful to be in that position.

Unlike most asanas, the Locust or Salabhasana requires a sudden movement to get into the pose. Its effects supplement those of the Cobra but where the Cobra concentrates on the upper half of the body, the Locust works mainly on the lower half, strengthening the abdomen, lower backs and legs. Like the other backward bends, it manages the internal organs, ensuring efficient functioning of the digestive system and preventing constipation. To begin with, you may only manage to raise your legs a few inches off the floor – in fact, it is at this stage that the pose most resembles a locust, tall in air. With regular practice you will discover how to contract your lower back muscles to thrust your legs up high, as well as developing the necessary strength. In time your legs will come to extend beyond your head as in the above picture.

Steps for Salabhasana :

1. Lying on your front, inhale and roll on to your side. Make two fists and place them side by side, with thumbs pressing into your thighs. Bring your elbows as close together as possible.
Note: You may find that a different hand position gives you more leverage – with your hands cupped, the palms facing the ground, or with hands clasped together, as above.

2. Exhaling, roll over on to your front, so that you are lying on your arms, with your head resting on your chin. Take a few normal breaths in this position.

3. Inhale and raise your right leg, using your hands as a lever. Take two full breaths, then exhale and bring the leg down. Repeat with the left leg. Keep both legs straight and don’t swivel the hips.

4. Now take three deep breaths and on the third inhalation, retain the breath and thrust both legs up. Hold the pose, breathing normally, then exhale and bring the legs down with control. Repeat when your breathing has slowed down.

Variations of this asana are:

  • Ardha Salabhasana (Half Locust Pose)
  • Poorna Salabhasana (Full Locust Pose)

Salabhasana Variations

Salabhasana (locust pose) variations