How to Perform the Locust Pose in Yoga

Full Locust yoga pose or salabhasana.
Full Locust yoga pose or salabhasana. | Source

Yoga is a light which, once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. – B.K.S. Iyengar

Asanas or poses are one of the major 'tools' of yoga. The practice of yoga poses can benefit a person on all the levels such as the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Asana is the positioning of the body in various postures, with the total involvement of the mind and the self.

Hence performing yoga poses is not like doing aerobic exercises or stretches in a mechanical way. They involve the element of thought or consciousness that must inform each movement of the asana. The final pose of an asana is achieved when all the parts of the body are positioned correctly, with full awareness and intelligence. The balance between both sides of the body should be perfect, until there is no undue stress on any one organ, muscle, bone or joint.

Locust Pose is one of the prone yoga poses known as 'shalabhasana' in Sanskrit. 'Shalabha' means locust and 'asana' means pose or posture. It can be done in several variations according to ability and requirements. In this article we will explore two variations, the half locust and the full locust poses.

The Importance of Buttock Muscles

It is important to remember that all yoga poses strengthen and tone the buttock muscles. Every movement whether you are lifting, turning, extending or pressing, involves the buttock muscles. The buttocks are composed of a group of three major muscles of which the gluteal maximus is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. The action of the Gluteal Maximus is to extend and to laterally rotate the hip, and also the trunk.

Our modern lifestyles of sitting long hours in front of the computer can lead to the gluteal muscles atrophying through constant pressure and disuse. It has been found that exercise and massage are effective at reversing and protecting against atrophy of these muscles.

The two other muscles in the buttocks, the Gluteus Medius and Minimus are primarily stabilisers of the hip joint. They work together to provide rotational control of the leg during movement and they also work together to produce hip abduction. Weakening of these muscles can cause severe pain and an inability to walk and run.

Doing the locust pose in both variations can help to further strengthen the buttock muscles.

Benefits of the Locust Pose in Yoga

The locust pose helps to tighten and tone the buttock muscles, flatten the abdomen and strengthen the legs. The benefits of the locust pose are:

  • tones legs and buttock muscles
  • strengthens lower back, buttocks and backs of thighs
  • stretches the hip flexors
  • helps relieve lower back and posture problems
  • energizes the nervous system
  • increases circulation
  • stimulates digestive organs
  • relieves gastric troubles and flatulence
  • prostrate gland is stimulated in men
  • bladder and ovaries are strengthened in women
  • energizes the whole body

Locust Pose with variations

Half Locust Pose or Ardha Shalabhasana

The half locust pose or ardha shalabhasana involves lifting the legs alternately starting with the left leg:

  • Lie on your stomach with your chin (not the point) resting on the mat. Legs hip-width apart. Arms alongside the body, hands in fists.
  • Engage the abdominal muscles 15-20 percent, Inhale and extend your left big toe backwards and then lift the whole leg 2 inches off the floor.
  • Keep the top of the left thighbone pressing into the floor so the left hip. Focus on stretching and extending from the hip socket.
  • Hold the leg up and breathe normally for up to 5 counts. Exhale and slowly lower the still-extended leg for a count of 5.
  • Repeat with the same leg 3 times.
  • Come back to starting position, turn your head to one side and rest, breathing normally.
  • Repeat the above with the right leg.
  • In the beginning you can place your fists together near your inner groin to support the lift of each leg.

Half Locust Pose

Half Locust pose in yoga.
Half Locust pose in yoga. | Source

Full Locust Pose or Shalabhasana

The full locust pose or shalabhasana involves lifting both the legs, arms shoulder and head off the ground simultaneously:

  • Lie on your stomach with your chin (not the point) resting on the mat. Legs hip-width apart. Arms alongside the body, hands in fists.
  • Bring your arms out to the sides in a T position, like aeroplane wings.
  • Point your toes backwards and engage the muscles in you legs.
  • Inhale deeply and simultaneously lift both the legs, arms shoulder and head off the ground.
  • Exhale and bring your arms back slightly, as if you were a jet plane.
  • Remain in the posture for several breaths, imagining yourself soaring through the sky.
  • Slowly lower your legs, arms, shoulders, and head.
  • Relax, resting your head to the side for a few moments as your feel the energy stream through your body.

Did you know that it is important to have strong buttock muscles to avoid backache?

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Practicing the Locust Pose

It is a good idea to perform the locust pose after doing the cobra pose or bhujangasana. The cobra pose begins at the upper part of the pbdy and works downward. The locus begins at the lower half of the body and moves upward.

You can ease into the locust with the half-locust before performing the full locust. In the beginning you will probably only raise your legs only a few inches off the ground, but even this can be beneficial. Hold the position as long as you comfortably can and then lower your body. It is important not to overdo it.

At the end of the practice you will feel energized and revitalized.

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