Hatha Yoga

    The Locust - Shalabhasana

    full locust

    Introduction

    Shalabhasana, the locust, is the seventh of the 12 basic postures of hatha yoga, and the second of the three back-strengthening exercises that are part of a normal hatha yoga class. The main benefits of the locust are to build strength and flexibility in the back. The locust is the counter-stretch to the shoulder stand, the plough, and the seated forward bend. Before beginning the locust, the resting posture is done by laying on the stomach instead of the back.

    Physical Benefits

    Energetic (Pranic) Benefits

    Mental Benefits

    Technique

    resting posture before locust

    Before beginning, rest on the stomach, your hands making a pillow under your head, one cheek resting on your hands. The toes should be touching together with the heels falling apart. Breathe deeply in this position, feeling your abdomen pressing into the floor on every inhale, relaxing your body a little bit more on every exhale. Between each of the back-strengthening exercises, be sure to alternate the side of your head resting on your hands so that both sides of your neck receive an equal relaxation.

    There are two phases to shalabhasana during a yoga class. The first phase is called the half locust, where each leg is lifted and held one at a time. Following this is the full locust where both legs are lifted together. The half locust is a preparatory exercise for the full locust, strengthening and helping to warm up the muscles of the back.

    The Half Locust

    The Full Locust

    The full locust begins the same way as the half locust.

    To come out of the locust exhale and with control bring the legs back down to the mat. Relax and breathe deeply.

    Contra-indications

    Do not practice shalabhasana if you are pregnant.

    Advanced Variations

    Once the normal full locust posture is mastered and you are able to lift your legs to a 45 degree angle from the floor, it is possible to continue with more advanced variations.

    In the full locust posture with high legs, the body is in the exact opposite position of the shoulderstand.

    full locust with high legs

    Once you can hold the locust with high legs, bend the knees and relax, letting the feet gradually come down until they are resting on top of the head.

    full locust with feet on head

    The locust is part of the basic yoga class.

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