Salabhasana, also known as locust pose, is one of the yoga asanas, or physical postures that make up one aspect of a yoga practice. This particular asana is a backbend and spine stretch that is deceptively difficult. In salabhasana, the individual lays face down on the ground, with the palms facing up and the toes pointed together, with the legs stretched straight back. Then, pressing the abdomen into the floor, the upper torso and the legs are both lifted off the floor and held in this upright position. From the side, the body just looks very slightly curved upwards.
There are some important things to remember when performing salabhasana. The first is that people with chronic back injuries should generally avoid this pose, particularly those with injuries to the lower spine. Otherwise, it can help to strengthen the abdominal muscles, and may even help to improve posture. People just starting work on this pose might find that they need to make some modifications to make it easier and more comfortable to do. Placing a blanket under the abdomen might be helpful, because some find it to be uncomfortable to lay flat on the stomach. In addition, putting a rolled-up blanket or bolster under the chest and under the thighs can help to keep them in the proper position until the muscles become strong enough to hold the body upright on their own.
It is also important to keep the neck in mind when attempting salabhasana. A yoga practitioner should either look down at the floor, keeping the neck straight, or just slightly ahead. Bending the head and neck back further than this can be damaging to the vertebrae in the neck, and can actually cause injury. People with neck injuries may even choose to keep the forehead resting on the floor in this posture.
In general, an individual will lift the torso and legs into salabhasana on an inhale, with the arms remaining straight at the side and the palms facing up, stretching through the legs and the upper torso as if the body is extending. The thighs should be rotated slightly inward, which helps to prevent compression of the lower spine, and the stretch should continue through the fingertips. The position is then held for 30 seconds to one minute, and then gently released on an exhale. It may then be repeated a few times, as the practitioner desires. Though the pose looks simple, it is actually quite challenging.