How to do the Padmasana Pose
- Begin lying on your stomach on the mat. Rest your forehead comfortably on the floor. Extend your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Bring your knees and ankles together and, pointing your toes, rest the tops of your feet on the mat.
- Lying on the mat, rotate your thigh muscles internally by turning the tops of your thighs towards each other. Internal rotation engages the tensor fascia lata and the gluteus minimus. Keep the rotation subtle to avoid gripping.
- Spoon your tailbone towards your navel on the mat. Maintain this pelvic tilt throughout the pose to avoid compressing your lower back in the backbend. A pelvic tilt keeps the back long.
- Inhale. Lift your head, shoulders, chest, arms, and legs off the mat. Roll your shoulder blades together and down to open your chest. Keep your knees and ankles as close together as possible.
- Keep your chin tucked and look straight forward or slightly down to avoid compressing the neck.
- Keep your arms close to your body, palms facing downwards or inwards. Stretch back through your fingertips to bring the shoulders higher.
- Breath and hold the pose.
- Exhale. Release your forehead, shoulders, chest, arms, and legs to the mat.
Modifications and Props
Cushion your hips with a folded blanket. Ultimately, the lower belly and hips take all your bodyweight in locust pose. This can be uncomfortable. Place a folded blanket beneath your hips to cushion them.
Protect your neck by propping up your head. If your neck is prone to injury, locust pose can place undo strain on weak neck muscles. Protect your neck by resting your forehead on a prop (placed horizontally) during the pose.
Interlace your hands behind your back to open the chest. For a more intense heart opener, in step six (above) bring your palms together behind your back and interlace your fingers. Roll your shoulder blades together and down and actively pull your arms back to open your chest.
Locust with no hands. To support your lower back, keep your arms grounded. Instead of lifting your arms in step four (above), keep your palms pressed firmly into the mat. Particularly if you’re a beginner at locust pose, this modification protects your back from compression and allows you to focus on extending the back instead.
To vary your workout, lift one leg at a time. If you’re seeking a new challenge, try practicing locust one leg at a time. In step four (above), lift your head, your shoulders, your chest, and only your right leg. Keep your arms pressed against the mat for support. After step eight, repeat and lift the left leg.
Swarmi Satyananda Saraswati’s Locust Pose (Shalabasana). This variation of locust pose from the legendary yogi eliminates the heart opening portion of the pose, focusing entirely on strengthening the quadriceps, obliques, abdominals, and pelvic muscles. In step one (above), rest on your chin, instead of your forehead. In step four, only lift your legs. Send them as high as your can. Support this upward motion with your arms. Either press your palms actively into the mat or ball your hands into fists and press them actively into the mat.
Swarmi Satyananda Saraswati’s Locust Pose, Variation I (Matsyasana). This variation is, essentially, flying locust. In step one (above), extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing down, like Superman. Plant your chin on the mat. In step four, raise your extended arms, your head, your shoulders, your chest, and your legs. Turn your palms inwards so they face each other.
Crocodile pose (Makarasana). This variation is one of three different poses known by the Sanskrit name makarasana (literally, sea monster). This is a challenging locust variation that opens the chest and works the lower back muscles. In step six (above), bend your elbows and interlace your hands together behind your head. Press your elbows back as you lift the chest higher. Beware compressing the back in this intense variation.
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