Here are a few tips for mastering Locust Pose, plus variations for beginners…
Locust Pose (Shalabhasana) is a beginner-to-intermediate yoga pose with a number of wonderful benefits, including improved posture and stronger back muscles. The pose helps to strengthen the lower back, reducing the risk of back pain, and it also stretches and tones the abdominal muscles while stimulating some of the internal organs.
Locust Pose has many variations, but here’s how to to the basic version correctly, according to Yoga Journal:
1. Lie on your belly with your legs straight. Place your arms at your sides with palms up, your chin gently resting on the floor.
2. Without lifting your legs or head, begin reaching forward through the top of your head and back through your toes…
3. Continue reaching forward with the top of your head and backward with your toes, slowly lifting your head, shoulders, and legs off the ground. Pull your legs together… Lift until you begin to feel a natural resistance—you should feel activated from head to toe and without strain…
4. Keep the backs of your hands rooted to the earth with a gentle, downward pushing action as you extend your arms… Hold for about 5 breaths (you can increase this amount over time).
Make sure to keep your shoulders down, away from your ears, and avoid bending your knees which can put too much strain on the lower back.
If you have trouble with Locust Pose as a beginner, you can modify the pose by lifting just your head and shoulders, while keeping your legs and feet on the floor, or by keeping your head and shoulders down, while just lifting your legs. You can also build strength in your back by keeping your head and shoulders on the floor, and lifting one leg at a time, until you feel strong enough to lift both legs, and eventually to move into the full pose.
If you are pregnant, you can experience some of the benefits of Locust Pose by starting on your hands and knees, and lifting and straightening one leg at a time as if you were trying to touch the wall behind you with your toes. Hold for 2-5 breaths on each side.