Salabasana= Locust Pose
Ardha Salabasana= Half Locust Pose
To practice self-care is to embody self-love and who couldn’t use more self-love in their lives. Whether it is responsibilities at home, deadlines and duties related to our jobs or maintaining social relationships that are our pivotal to our wellbeing, we are oftentimes short on time and effort when it comes to not indulging, but actually honoring ourselves by activating the heart chakra. As we open up the heart to readily and eagerly take in the vibrant energy of love, compassion and care not only towards others, but to ourselves we are also engaging the pran vayu. The pran vayu indicates forward as well as inward moving air; therefore governing the consumption, absorption and intake of such vital life force energy.
Locust pose as well as half locust pose are an ideal spine stretch along with a good back bend that increases flexibility and stamina of the body while simultaneously opening up the heart and upper chest. More importantly than physically achieving this back bend, is breathing evenly and smoothly through the pose. As with any posture done therapeutically and with awareness, the form is continuously secondary to the breath.
Yoga Therapy in Action with Salabasana
Keeping in mind that the movement follows the breath, to practice a dynamic ardha shalabasana sequence begin by lying on your stomach with your arms folded behind your back and your hands resting gently on your sacrum, palms facing the sky. Leading with the chest as you inhale your head also lifts and tilts to the left as you sweep the left arm forward into a salute position and lift the right leg up slightly with your toes pointing back and hips remain comfortably neutral. Your head returns to a central position as you lower your chest and head on an exhale while the left arm moves behind you and the right leg rests back down onto the mat.
Continuing and moving into this backbend on the opposite side of the body reassures a sense of balance both physically and mentally by engaging both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. On your next inhale, shift your dristi and head towards the right as you sweep the right arm into a salute position. Still focusing on the gradual inhale, lift the left leg, toes pointing to the back. The head gently transitions back to center as you exhale, lowering the left leg and right arm behind you while simultaneously lowering the chest towards the mat. Now look towards the on your next inhale as you prepare for your next cycle of breath and repeat the given asana sequence.
To move into shalabasana, it is important to note that the focus here is on the breath and honoring the body into such a transition. When practicing locust pose, putting too much emphasis on the height or rather how high you lift your legs can place an unnecessary amount of strain on your neck and back and cause injury; therefore, counterintuitive to pose’s benefit of strengthening the spine. In shalabasana, your pelvis should be drawn firmly into the mat as your inhale and simultaneously lift both legs off the ground, toes pointing back and hips resting on the mat. Your chest also lifts on the inhale, your neck is neutral as the chin is parallel to the mat, gaze straight forward and your arms in this full variation are bent at elbows with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders. As you exhale, both your legs and chest lower down, gently placing your forehead on the mat.
While Shalabasana and ardha shalabasana are beneficial in minimizing if not circumventing feelings of fatigue, flatulence and lower back pain, please be mindful of moving into these asanas if you suffer from headaches and/or major back and neck injuries. Focusing on a breath-centric practice where the breath and function are the priority versus the form, reduces not only the risk for injury, but also the pressure or need to perfect the physical look of the asana.
One of the world’s leading yoga therapists and founder of American Viniyoga Institute, Gary Kraftsow demonstrates various sequences catered to dealing with anxiety while providing ample support to keep you engaged, safe and receptive to the healing process in his DVD’s.
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