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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.
Locust Pose Basics
Pose Type: Backbend
Target Area: Upper Body
Why We Love It: I have very little appreciation for this pose. I find it challenging if I am not focused on the shoulder alignment. Speaking off the cuff here, l treasure my rotator cuffs, and this pose always presented a challenge for me until I used Chaturanga Dandasana as a base. Locust always comes closer to the end my practice, so setting up in a familiar pose helps. I no longer look like a pretzel while getting into the pose, and my shoulders thank me!” – Sarah LaVigne, Contributing Photo Editor
Locust Pose improves posture and counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and computer work. It may help relieve lower back pain, can counteract slouching and kyphosis (abnormal curvature of the spine), and strengthens your back muscles, especially the muscles supporting your spine. Locust Pose also strengthens your buttocks (glutes) and backs of thighs (hamstrings), plus it slightly strengthens around your shoulders and upper back.
Locust Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
- For this pose you might want to pad the floor below your pelvis and ribs with a folded blanket. Lie on your belly with your arms along the sides of your torso, palms up, forehead resting on the floor. Turn your big toes toward each other to inwardly rotate your thighs, and firm your buttocks so your coccyx presses toward your pubis.
- Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs away from the floor. Youll be resting on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis. Firm your buttocks and reach strongly through your legs, first through the heels to lengthen the back legs, then through the bases of the big toes. Keep the big toes turned toward each other.
- 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.
- Gaze forward or slightly upward, being careful not to jut your chin forward and crunch the back of your neck. Keep the base of the skull lifted and the back of the neck long.
- 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.
- 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 you’ve 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.
Locust Pose Variation
Half Locust Pose with Your Upper Body
- Try just lifting your upper body to prepare and focus on your upper back muscles.
- You can bring your hands behind you and optionally interlace them.
- Alternatively, you can simply reach your hands back without interlacing.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
- Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose)
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
- Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)
- Virasana (Hero Pose)