Ardha Shalabhasana (half locust pose)
1. Lie flat on the stomach with the hands under the thighs, palms downwards or hands clenched.
2. Keep both the legs straight throughout the practice.
3. Place the chin on the floor, slightly stretched forward, to give the best possible stretch to the neck muscles and nerves.
4. Using the back muscles, raise the left leg as high as possible, keeping the other leg straight, relaxed and in contact with the floor.
5. Retain the position for as long as is possible without strain. Do not tilt or twist the pelvis.
6. Lower the leg to the floor. Repeat the same movement with the right leg.
This is one round.
Note: While holding, maintain normal breathing.
Breathing: Inhale in the starting position. Retain the breath inside while raising the leg and in the final position. Exhale while lowering the leg 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.
Benefits: Ardha shalabhasana is recommended in yoga therapy for the management of sciatica and slipped disc if it can be performed without pain. It also alleviates constipation.
Practice note: The left leg should be raised first so that pressure is applied on the right side of the abdomen to massage the ascending colon of the large intestine, following the direction of intestinal peristalsis.
Variation: Lie on the stomach with the legs and feet together and the forehead touching the floor. Stretch both arms above the head in advasana. Place the chin on the floor. Keep the arms and legs straight throughout the practice. Simultaneously, raise the left leg, the head and right arm as high as possible. The left leg should be stretched backwards and the right arm stretched forward as they are raised. Retain the position for as long as possible without straining. Lower the leg, head and arm to the starting position. Relax in advasana, allowing the respiration to return to normal. Repeat the same movement with the right leg and left arm. This is one round.
Breathing: Inhale while raising the leg, arm and head. Retain while holding the position. Exhale while lowering the leg, arm and head to the starting position. Duration: Up to 5 rounds.
Physical - on synchronising the breath with the movement and on the diagonal stretch through the body from the tips of the toes of the raised leg to the fingertips of the opposite hand.
Spiritual - on swadhisthana chakra
Benefits: This asana is beneficial for beginners with weak and stiff backs as it helps to tone the back muscles and stimulate the nerves, particularly in the lower back, while simultaneously giving a strong diagonal stretch to the body. It develops concentration through awareness of coordination of movement with breath.