Pose of the Week: Salabhasana

This week’s pose is SalabhasanaSalabh= locust, Asana = pose/posture. So it’s locust pose. The shape of the pose is similar to a locust at rest.


It is one of the first backbending asana to be taught. It’s regarded as a prone or baby backbend. Prone means that you lay on the floor face down. As soon as you’re lying down and supported by the floor your nervous system becomes quiet. This is good place to start. To raise your chest, legs and arms off the floor requires attention and energy. The breath can also become challenged as there is some pressure on your diaphragm. But essentially what it teaches is how to use the musculature of your back. It’s also a symmetrical asana so it helps to develop the muscles of the back evenly and provides the stability required for more advanced backbends.

Most people are not natural backbenders. And let’s face it, we’re not bending over backwards everyday (except maybe it feels like it when you’re trying to please everyone around you!). So actual backbends can be challenging to say the least, if not even a little frightening.

Locust pose is an access point to develop a familiarity with backbends. There’s a process of attention and understanding of your spine, how it moves and the affect your arms and legs can have on it. It’s a process in that you’re learning to create an awareness from a position where you can breathe and observe, as not much will be achieved with force and jerky movements. Also it’s about letting go of unnecessary muscular tension (eg. tops of the shoulders, throat and abdominals). In Salabhasana the ground is supporting you as you explore these releases.

Image: BKS Iyengar in Salabhasana (photo from Light on Yoga).

Salabhasana gives you a starting point to backbends as you’re learning the actions required in the lengthening of the spine and the broadening action of the shoulders. But what’s really significant about backbends is you have to open yourself up. In other backbends, like Urdhva Dhanurasana (upward bow pose) and Ustrasana (camel pose) the front of your body is exposed, where normally we are equipped with a defense mechanism is protect our chest, heart, face and our abdominal organs. Your head is back and your throat is exposed. So you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, but that vulnerability sets up a new connectivity to the present moment.

See you on the mat 🙂

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