Open Your Heart with Locust Pose – Salabhasana

July 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Yoga Articles

Type of pose: Backbend, heart opener

Benefits: Strengthens the back. Opens the chest. Improves spinal mobility


1. Lie down on your stomach. Placing a blanket under your hips for padding makes this pose a lot more comfortable, but you can skip it if you are doing the pose in a flow.

2. Bring your arms down by your sides with your palms facing the floor. Stretch your legs straight out behind you with the tops of your feet on the mat.

3. Bring your forehead or your chin to the mat in preparation. Roll your shoulders back and down to open your chest

4. On an inhale, lift your head, chest, and arms up off the floor. Keep your arms straight behind you. Reach through all ten fingers and turn your hands so that your thumbs are pointing down. Keep sliding your shoulder blades down your back.

5. Engage your legs so that your knees lift off the floor. At the same time, try not to tighten your butt too much so that your tailbone has somewhere to go as you back bend. Press the tops of your feet strongly into the floor.

6. Keep your gaze on the floor just in front of you so that your neck stays in a neutral position, not cranking up. 

7. Stay in this pose for three to five breaths. On an exhale, release down to the floor. Turn your head to one side and and rest on your cheek. It’s traditional to go for three rounds of backbends, so do this pose twice more, possible incorporating the variations described below.

Beginners’ Tips:

1. If you’re not getting much lift in the chest, roll up a blanket and place it at the bottom of your ribcage. Practicing like this will help you strengthen the back muscles.

2. If you have a partner handy, ask them to stand on your feet while you do the pose. You’ll be surprised how much higher you can lift your chest when the feet are securely anchored.

This also helps you get a feel for how strongly your need to press into your feet. 

Advanced Tips:

1. Interlace your hands behind your back before you lift up into the pose. As you lift up, roll your shoulders back and extend your arms straight behind you, keeping your hands clasped. Start to lift your hands off your back up toward the ceiling.

2. When you lift your torso, simultaneously lift your legs off the floor, keeping them straight. Engage your entire leg, even reaching out through your toes. Keep your chest high.

3. For an advanced challenge, extend your arms in front of your body instead of behind. You will have to work extra hard to keep your chest lifted.

4. Start to extend the amount of time that you hold the pose. Work up to ten breaths, making sure that you are maintaining the integrity of your alignment throughout. 

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