Yoga Poses

4 Ways to Modify Locust Pose

Modify Shalabhasana as necessary to find safe alignment in your body.

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If you feel discomfort in your back, neck, or shoulders …

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Try raising your head and shoulders while keeping your legs and feet on the floor. Lengthen through the top of your head and reach back through your toes to elongate your entire body. Slowly raise your head and shoulders until you reach a height where your back muscles feel active without pain or discomfort. Hold for 5 breaths. If you feel any pain, back out of the posture until the sensation is relieved, or exit the pose completely. 

See also A Healing Yoga Sequence to Ease Neck + Shoulder Pain

If you feel discomfort in your back, neck, or shoulders …

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Try raising your legs with your chin and chest on the floor. This modification has similar benefits to the one at left: try them both to see how they feel in your body. Keep your chin gently connected to the floor, and elongate through the top of your head and back through the tips of your toes. Begin raising your legs slowly without bending your knees. Height is secondary to the lengthening of your legs. Keep your focus on activating your back muscles and abdominals. Let your legs find a natural height where you feel like you’re working but not straining. Hold for 5 breaths.

See also Plug In To Your Core Power

If you have abdominal pain or are pregnant …

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Try moving to your hands and knees and lifting one leg at a time. Place your hands below your shoulders, knees under your hips. Keep the top of your right foot in gentle contact with the floor and slide it back along your mat. As your leg extends, raise it up slowly, reaching and lengthening back through your toes. Imagine you are trying to touch a wall behind you with your toes but it’s just out of reach. Square your hips. Maintain good control of your abdominals in order to protect and strengthen your low back. Hold for 2–5 breaths. To exit, lower your leg and keep extending back through your toes until they touch the floor. Repeat the same actions with the other leg. Repeat 3 times on each side, alternating legs.

See also Prana In the Belly: 4 Steps to a Healthy Core + Digestive System

If you’re unable to lift both legs without strain …

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Try lifting one leg at a time with your chin and chest on the floor. Raising both legs simultaneously requires a lot of strength, so use this variation to build strength and confidence. Encourage length by reaching out through the top of your head and back through your toes. Raise one leg, keeping the front of your pelvis to the floor. Keeping your pelvis grounded isolates your leg and back muscles. Hold for 2–5 breaths (or more as your strength increases). To exit, lower your leg slowly and with control—don’t let it drop to the floor like a rock. Repeat the same actions with the other leg. Repeat 3 times on each side, alternating legs.

See also Poses for Your Legs

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Teacher and model David Swenson began teaching yoga in 1972 and today is recognized as one of the world’s foremost instructors of Ashtanga Yoga. He is one of a handful of people worldwide who has learned the entire Ashtanga system as originally taught by K. Pattabhi Jois. Swenson has produced eight Ashtanga Yoga DVDs and is the author of Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual, which has been translated into 14 languages.