Grasshopper Pose

Shalabasana - The Grasshopper Pose

At a Glance

This pose is likened to that of a grasshopper or of the locust, an Indian species in the grasshopper family. Shalabasana emphasizes the lumbar area, glutes, and the back of the thighs, a few of the most neglected parts of the body. The consequences which can arise from neglecting these areas range from minor troubles such as lower back pain to major conditions such as sciatica or herniated disc. Although this posture may be unpleasant due to the fact that it focuses on our weaknesses, it is all the more important for that same reason. The benefits of this posture span from improved digestion to strengthening of the lumbar spine, relief of stress and of lower back pain due to the simulation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

POSE TYPE
Prone pose

POSE CATEGORY
Back Bending
Strengthening

ORIGIN
Gheranda Samhita

SANSKRIT
Shalabasana
शलभासन

TRANSLATION
Grasshopper/Locust (Shalabha)
Pose (Asana)

PRONUNCIATION
sha-la-BAHS-anna

Performance

STARTING
Lie in a prone position, arms next to the body. The head is in line with the spine, supported by the chin or forehead.

ENTERING
Roll the body from side to side to bring the arms close together in front of the body. Place your hands pointing downward under the pelvis/thighs. Optionally you might clench the fists for stronger support. Activate the muscles of the lower back, and lift the legs as high as possible, while they remain straight and parallel, with feet relaxed.
Shift the weight forward towards the upper body to lift the legs higher.
Alternatively the arms and hands may be kept close to the trunk instead of beneath it, with the hands pointing downward.

RELEASING
Lowering the legs slowly, with control.

VARIATION
In case of severe weakness of the lower back, the asana can be performed in an alternating way, lifting only one leg at a time: first the left and then the right leg.

Effects

PHYSIOLOGICAL
- Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the legs.
- Stretches the shoulders, belly, and thighs.
- Stimulates abdominal and pelvic organs.
- Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Tones the sciatic nerves.

ENERGETIC
- The Sacral Chakra is activated.
- Can activate Kundalini Shakti in advanced stages of practice.

PSYCHOLOGICAL
- Counteracts fatigue.
- Increases creativity, fantasy, and imagination.
- Helps relieve stress.

Contra-Indications

- Weak heart
- Coronary thrombosis
- High blood pressure
- Peptic ulcer
- Hernia and intestinal tuberculosis
- Headache
- Serious back injury
- Pregnancy: avoid practice after second trimester

"Lie on the ground face downwards, the two hands being placed on the chest, touching the ground with the palms, raise the legs in the air one cubit high. This is called the Locust-posture."
- Gheranda Samhita (transl. Chandra Vasu).

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