Salabasana and Bhujangasana
Salabhasana (sha-la-BAHS-anna) Salabha- Locust or Grasshopper, Asana- Pose
Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) Bhujanga- Serpent, Snake, Asana- Pose
Salabhasana variations are simple backbends performed while lying prone (on the belly) that prepare the body for deeper backbending practice by strengthening and lengthening the muscles of the back, legs and “core”.
There are many variations of Salabhasana, here are a few:
To prepare, first lie on your belly with your fingertips below the shoulders. Concentrate on lengthening the tailbone towards the heels, there should be a slight pressure of the pubic bone towards the floor, which will cause the naval to rise away from the floor, maintain these actions while practicing the variations. Activate the legs by pressing the toenails down, the inner thighs spiral in and up towards the pelvis.
Ekapada Salabhasana (one leg locust pose)
Lie on the belly with the legs extended backwards, the inner ankles together. Extend the arms forwards on the floor beside the ears, the palms turned down.
On the inhalation, lift the head, chest, right arm and right leg. Do not flex the head too far backwards, keep the neck long and relaxed and the right should drawing away from the right ear.
Try to keep the frontal hip bones on the mat and the shoulders even, so the right side of the body does not tilt upwards, rather the muscles of the back and leg lift upwards.
Keep the knees straight, the right arms elongating from the shoulder joint and the right leg elongating back from the lumbar spine.
Hold for five breaths and release on the exhalation. Repeat on the opposite side. Practice 1-3 times on each side.
Salabhasana A and B
Lie on the belly resting on your chin with your hands palms up along your sides, the legs together with the edges of the big toes touching, heels slightly apart so that the inner thighs spiral in and upwards. Follow the same alignment principles for Ekapada Salbhasana.
For Salabhasana A roll the shoulders up and back as you slide the shoulder blades down and in. With an inhale, lift the head and legs using your back muscles to arch up. Keep your arms to your sides, using the tops of your hands to press down into the floor broadening the shoulders and the collar bones.
Keep the neck level, the legs strong and gently squeezing together, and your tailbone lengthening. After 4-5 breaths, lower with an exhale. You can rest with your forehead to the floor, or on one side of your face.
For Salabhasana B, from the A variation, slide the hands forward, palms down, until the forearms are 90 degrees to the floor. Press the hands down and back and slightly out to the sides as if you were trying to scoot forwards on your belly. Keep reaching out through inner legs. Hold for 4-5 breaths and release on the exhalation.
Bhujangasana (snake or serpent pose)
Begin lying on the belly with the legs extended hip-distance apart and the hands spread wide underneath the shoulders. Draw the elbows in close to the ribcage.
On an inhalation, firmly press the pubic bone, tops of the feet, and thighs into the floor, lift the shoulders up and back as you press into the palms to lift the chest off of the floor.
Maintain a connection in the front of the body between the lower ribcage and the top of the hips, engaging from the pubic bone to the belly button. Allow the tailbone to slightly drop down, as you try not to over engage the buttocks muscles. Lift from the sternum to the top of the head, maintaining an equal openness through out the spine. Stay for up to 30 seconds breaths. On an exhalation, reach through the crown as you lower the chest back to the floor. Keep the elbows hugging close to the body to engage the tricep muscles and avoid the shoulders rounding forward.
For an advanced variation of this pose and to increase the stretch in the thighs, bend both knees bringing the feet towards the head. Make sure to maintain connection to the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles.
• Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs
• Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs
• Improves posture
• Stimulates abdominal organs
• Helps relieve stress
• Serious back injury
• Students with neck injuries should keep their head in a neutral position by looking down at the floor; they might also support the forehead on a thickly folded blanket.
Watch out for
• Jutting rib cage
• Shoulders in the ears or tensed trapezius
• Lifting too high on the arms and over stretching in the low back
• Collapsing in the lower back and losing connection with the legs and pubic bone
• Tensed face, keep your gaze downward cast towards the nose to relax the optic nerve