Want to Improve Your Posture? Add Locust Pose to Your Next Yoga Flow

Locust pose strengthens the muscles on the back side of your body, which helps improve posture.
Image Credit: Koldunova_Anna/iStock/GettyImages

Locust pose gets a bad rap for being a generally unenjoyable and somewhat difficult pose to practice in yoga. This low-intensity backbend doesn't offer a lot of range of motion or a deep, juicy stretch to provide the feel-good experience that other backbends deliver. This posture tends to be sort of uncomfortable and challenging in a slow-burn kind of way.

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However, even though most of us would prefer to avoid it, it's the one yoga pose we should all be doing more of for better posture and spinal strength.

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Below, we'll share how to properly practice this pose, its benefits, how to make it easier or harder and the best ways to build it into your yoga practice.

  • What is locust pose?‌ Salabhasana (the Sanskrit name) literally translates to "locust pose" — "sala" means "locust" and "asana" means "pose"). Locust posture is a symmetrical, prone backbend (or "belly-down backbend," to put it another way) that involves lying on your belly, elevating your arms and legs and gently extending your mid and upper back. It's a lot like cobra pose, but without the assistance of your hands to press the torso off your mat; instead, your arms face backward, putting all the responsibility on your deep, intrinsic spinal muscles and hamstrings to lift you up against gravity.
  • What is locust pose good for?‌ Locust pose helps to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by activating your posterior muscles (those along the backside of your body), including your back, hamstrings and glutes. This pose also releases tension in your shoulders and chest. Ultimately, this leads to better posture.
  • Who can do locust pose?‌ Because locust pose is done lying down, it is a generally safe and grounded posture that's beneficial for almost everyone to practice. That being said, the pressure put on your abdomen and pelvis makes it unsafe for pregnant women to do. Additionally, if you feel any pain or extreme discomfort in your low back, try one of the modifications below. If that still doesn't work, it's best to avoid this posture and work with an experienced yoga teacher to find an alternative.
  • How long should you hold locust pose?‌ Hold this posture for 3 to 5 breaths to get a good stretch and reap the benefits with consistent practice overtime.

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How to Do Locust Pose With Proper Form

Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie face-down on the floor with your arms resting by your sides and the palms of your hands facing downward.
  2. Turn your legs in toward each other to ensure your knees point directly toward the floor.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and inhale as you lift your head, chest, arms and legs off the floor.
  4. Extend your arms and legs behind you, arms parallel to the floor.
  5. Keep your head in a neutral position as you lift up as high as possible while your pelvis and lower abdominals stabilize your body on your mat.
  6. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

Locust Pose Benefits

Most of our everyday activities keep our arms, head and neck in a forward-leaning position, shortening the muscles in the front of our chest and effectively weakening the ones on the back of our bodies. This can lead to a host of injuries or postural issues.

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When practiced enough (once or twice a week, or more), this belly-down backbend can counteract the unhealthy patterns we develop while desk-bound or driving around by activating the muscles on the backs of our bodies — including our spinal muscles, hamstrings and glutes — while simultaneously releasing tension in our shoulders and chest.

This low-intensity prone backbend is an excellent precursor for bigger backbends (like wheel pose) because it builds strength in the backs of our bodies — a crucial component for safe and effective back bending.

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Common Mistakes in Locust Pose (and How to Fix Them)

Locust pose is a fairly straightforward and uncomplicated posture, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to optimally align your body and get the most out of it.

One of the most common mistakes made in locust pose is the tendency to crane the neck forward to lift up instead of using your spinal muscles, hamstrings and glutes. If you find yourself defaulting to this action, try correcting it by gently tucking your chin to your chest (without rounding your neck) to isolate your posterior muscles as you rise up and off the mat.

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The second most common mistake in locust pose isn't necessarily an error, but it can be limiting and downright uncomfortable for some: bringing your legs and feet together. Again, it's not necessarily bad or wrong, but if you have a wider pelvis, this could potentially jam up your low back and even make it more difficult to extend your mid and upper spine. Experiment with separating your legs and feet hip-width distance apart to create a sensation of spaciousness throughout your back.

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Locust Pose Variations

There are a few ways to make locust pose easier for beginners or harder for those more advanced, depending on how much strength and mobility you have.

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Locus Pose Modifications

1. Locust Pose With Feet Down

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Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie face-down on the floor with your arms resting by your sides and the palms of your hands facing downward.
  2. Turn your legs in toward each other to ensure your knees point directly toward the floor.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and inhale as you lift your head, chest and arms off the floor.
  4. Extend your arms and legs behind you, arms parallel to the floor.
  5. Keep your head in a neutral position as you lift up as high as possible while your pelvis and lower abdominals stabilize your body on your mat.
  6. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

2. Supported Locust Pose on Blanket

Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Yoga
  1. On your mat, place a thinly folded blanket in the middle of your mat.
  2. Lie face-down with your lower ribs, belly and pelvis on the blanket to lessen the back bend and make this pose a bit softer. Rest your arms by your sides with the palms of your hands facing downward.
  3. Turn your legs in toward each other to ensure your knees point directly toward the floor.
  4. Squeeze your glutes and inhale as you lift your head, chest, arms and legs off the floor.
  5. Extend your arms and legs behind you, arms parallel to the floor.
  6. Keep your head in a neutral position as you lift up as high as possible while your pelvis and lower abdominals stabilize your body on your mat.
  7. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

Locust Pose Progression

1. Locust Pose With Deep Shoulder Stretch

Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie face-down on the floor with your arms resting by your sides and the palms of your hands facing downward.
  2. Turn your legs in toward each other to ensure your knees point directly toward the floor.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and inhale as you lift your head, chest, arms and legs off the floor.
  4. Extend your legs behind you and interlace your hands behind you, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  5. Keep your head in a neutral position as you lift up as high as possible while your pelvis and lower abdominals stabilize your body on your mat.
  6. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

How to Add Locust Pose to Your Yoga Practice

Because this is a backbend posture, try softening tension in your chest and shoulders before doing locust pose by warming up with cat-cow pose (Bitilasana Marjaryasana), cobra pose (Bhujangasana) or even a gentle twist to release your mid and upper back.

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Locust pose is the perfect posture to do right before bow pose (Dhanurasana), which is a much deeper belly-down backbend and warms up a lot of the same muscles. Similarly, you can use it to prep your body before practicing a gentle belly-down backbend like sphinx pose (Salamba Bhujangasana).

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