Place hands under thighs and lift legs as high as possible without bending knees.
Shalabhasana (locust pose)
1. Lie flat on the stomach with the legs and feet together and the soles of the feet uppermost.
2. The arms may be placed either under the body or by the sides, with the palms downward or the hands clenched.
3. Stretch the chin slightly forward and rest it on the floor throughout the practice. Close the eyes and relax the body. This is the starting position.
4. Slowly raise the legs as high as possible, keeping them straight and together. The elevation of the legs is produced by applying pressure with the arms against the floor and contracting the lower back muscles.
5. Hold the final position for as long as is comfortable without strain.
6. Slowly lower the legs to the floor. This is one round.
7. Return to the starting position and relax the body with the head turned to one side. Allow the respiration and heart beat to return to normal.
Note: While holding, maintain normal breathing.
Breathing: Inhale deeply in the starting position. Retain the breath inside while raising the legs and holding the position. Exhale while lowering the legs. Beginners may find it helpful to inhale while raising the legs. Advanced practitioners may exhale after returning to the starting position.
Duration: Up to 5 rounds when performed dynamically. Up to 3 rounds when performed statically.
Physical - on synchronising the breath with the movement or on the lower back, abdomen and heart.
Spiritual - on vishuddhi chakra.
Sequence: Most beneficial when performed after bhujangasana and before dhanurasana.
Contra-indications: Shalabhasana requires a great deal of physical effort, so it should not be practised by people with a weak heart, coronary thrombosis or high blood pressure. Those suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis and other such conditions are also advised not to practise this asana.
Benefits: The parasympathetic nerves are particularly prominent in the regions of the neck and pelvis. Shalabhasana stimulates the whole autonomic nervous system, especially the parasympathetic outflow. It strengthens the lower back and pelvic organs, and tones the sciatic nerves, providing relief for those with conditions such as backache, mild sciatica and slipped disc as long as the condition is not serious. It tones and balances the functioning of the liver and other abdominal organs, alleviates diseases of the stomach and bowels, and stimulates the appetite.