The Locust or Grasshopper Yoga Posture (Shalabha-asana)

The Locust or Grasshopper Yoga Posture (Shalabha-asana)

Translation of The Locust or Grasshopper Yoga Posture (Shalabha-asana)

The Sanskrit word Shalabha means locust or grasshopper. There is a variation of this posture called the viparita-shalabhaasana. The Sanskrit word viparita means "reverse." This is an advanced variation not covered here.

Pronunciation: sha-la-bhah-sa-na

Difficulty: (3)

The Locust or Grasshopper Yoga Posture (Shalabha-asana) has many benefits. Besides strengthening the muscles of the upper legs and lower back, it stimulates the stomach and intestines helping to relieve gastrointestinal gas, strengthens the bladder, and stretches the spine.

To assist raising the legs as high as possible keep the back of the hands resting on the floor while pushing the legs upward with the fingers. As you get better at this posture and increase the strength of your legs you can raise the hands completely off the floor so your legs are raised unsupported. This increases the benefits of the shalabha-asana.

Benefits of The Locust or Grasshopper Yoga Posture (Shalabha-asana)

  • Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs 
  • Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs 
  • Improves posture 
  • Stimulates abdominal organs 
  • Helps relieve stress 

Instructions to perform the Locust or Grasshopper Yoga Posture (Shalabha-asana)

  1. Lie on the stomach with the head turned to one side and the arms alongside the body with palms facing upward. 
  2. Turn the head and place your chin on the floor. Slide your hands under your thighs, with the palms pressed gently against the top of your thighs. 
  3. Inhale slowly and then raise the head, chest, and legs off the floor as high as possible. Tilt your head as far back as possible. Keep your feet, knees, and thighs pressed together. 
  4. Starting at the top of the head and working your way down to the feet, bring your attention to each part of your body, consciously relaxing it before proceeding on to the next. 
  5. Remain in the posture while holding the breath. You can support your legs by pressing the hands upward against your thighs. 
  6. Hold the posture for as long as you can hold the inhaled breath then slowly return the legs, chest, and head to the floor while exhaling. 
  7. Remove your hands from under your thighs and place the arms alongside your body. Turn your head to the side and rest. 
Duration/Repetitions: Hold this posture for as long as you can hold the inhaled breath. Repeat the shalabha-asana three times.

Contraindications and Cautions

  • A headache 
  • Serious back injury 
  • Students with neck injuries should keep their head in a neutral position by looking down at the floor; they might also support the forehead on a thickly folded blanket. 

Modifications and Props

Beginners sometimes have difficulty holding this pose. You can support the area around your lower sternum with a rolled-up blanket to help maintain the lift of your upper torso. Similarly, you can support the front of your thighs with a blanket roll to help support the lift of your legs.

Beginner's Tip
Beginners sometimes have difficulty sustaining the lift of the torso and legs in this pose. Begin the pose with your hands resting on the floor, a little bit back from the shoulders, closer to your waist. Inhale and gently push your hands against the floor to help lift the upper torso. Then keep the hands in place as you do the pose, or after a few breaths, once you’ have established the lift of the chest, swing them back into the position described above in step 3. As for the legs, you can do the pose with the legs lifted alternately off the floor. For example, if you want to hold the pose for a total of 1 minute, first lift the right leg off the floor for 30 seconds, then the left leg for 30 seconds.

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