Grouped among the so-called baby backbends, which includes Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Sea Monster Pose (described in the Variations section below), it is an unassuming pose that, like other seemingly simple poses, is actually a lot more interesting and challenging than it appears at first glance.
salabha = grasshopper, locust
Step by Step
Raise your arms parallel to the floor and stretch back actively through your fingertips. Imagine theres a weight pressing down on the backs of the upper arms, and push up toward the ceiling against this resistance. Press your scapulas firmly into your back.
Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation. Take a few breaths and repeat 1 or 2 times more if you like.
|Contraindications and Cautions|
|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.|
|Deepen the Pose|
|Advanced students can challenge themselves a bit more with a variation of Salabhasana. Instead of stretching the legs straight back from the pelvis, bend the knees and position the shins perpendicular to the floor. Then, as you lift the upper torso, head and arms, lift the knees as far away from the floor as possible.|
|Salabhasana is a good preparation for all of the baby back bends, including Dhanurasana and Ustrasana. Other possible follow-ups include:|
|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 youve 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.|
|A partner can help you get a feel for the work in the back of the upper arms. Have your partner stand straddling your torso while you perform the pose. He should then lean forward and press his hands firmly against the backs of your upper arms (triceps). You then push up against this resistance. The partner might also, as hes pressing down on the upper arms, draw the skin away from the shoulders, toward your wrists.|
|A challenging variation of Salabhasana is called Makarasana (mah-KAH-rah = often translated as "crocodile" or "dolphin," but literally "sea monster"). The legs are raised in this pose exactly as in Salabhasana, but the fingers are clasped and then the palms are pressed against the back of the head, with the index fingers hooked up underneath the base of the skull. With the upper torso lifted, open the arms out to your sides.|