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Niralamb Shalabhasan (unsupported locust pose)

 


In Yoga Pravesh, we practiced Shalabhasan by placing the hands under the thighs and pressing onto the ground for support. Here in Yoga Parichaya, we will study the practice of Shalabhasan without the support of hands, hence the term Niralam Shalabhasan.

 

Taking the asana position

 

1. Start in prone position. Bend both the hands at the elbows and interlaced the fingers at the back of the neck. The chin is resting on the ground. Exhale, while inhaling, and lift both the legs up gradually. Breathe normally in the pose.
 

 

The asana position

 

1. The elbows of the bend arms should not be on the ground; it is just slightly above the ground with the arms parallel to the ground.
2. The lifted legs should be straight at all time, while moving in to the pose and maintaining it.
3. The toes are pointed to the back.
4. The chin should be on the ground at all times.
5. Breath should remain steady and rhythmic; do not hold the breath while in this asana.

 

Releasing the asana position

 

1. Inhale, while exhaling, with slow and controlled movement, place the legs on the ground.
2. Release the hands from the back of the neck and place the arms by the side of the body, coming back into prone position.

 

Anatomical focus

 

1. Lumber region of the spinal column
2. Lower abdomen

 

Awareness

 

1. Keep the chin grounded as students have the tendency of lifting it off.
2. Legs should remain straight with toes pointing to the back. One may find that with the knees bend, the legs looked like it is lifted high off the ground, but the benefits of strengthening the legs would be minimized, if knees are bended.
3. Elbows are slightly off the ground. They should not be lifted to high up as one would also lift the chin off the ground at the same time.
4. Maintain normal breathing throughout the whole process of coming into, staying and releasing of the asana.

 

Do's

 

1. Remember to breathe normally while in the pose, as there would be a tendency to stop doing so.

 

Dont's

 

1. Tense up the whole body while lifting the legs off the ground and maintaining it. The body should be soft and efforts to be made on relaxing the body.

 

Benefits

 

1. It helps to strengthen the legs in prone position, as the legs& toes are stretched desirably.
2. This pose strengthens the muscles on the lower back, with the pressure that one get from lifting the legs off the ground and maintaining it.
3. The muscles on the lower abdomen are stretched when the legs are lifted off, and thus toning them.
4. The pressure felt on the abdomen while holding the asana increases the efficiency of the digestive organs, excretion system and the reproductive system.

 

Therapeutic application

 

1. Weak lower back muscles

 

Precautions & contra-indications

 

1. People who have any spinal column ailments, especially on the lower vertebrae should not attempt this pose.
2. Those with hernia, intestinal ulcers and other diseases of the small and large intestine should practice this pose under expert guidance and advice.
3. Beginners should work slowly on improving the strength of the lower back muscles, before lifting the legs up or increasing the duration to hold this pose. This would help in minimizing the strain of the breath. Benefits of this pose are greatly minimized if the individual capacity is exceeded.
4. One should practice minimum lifting and increased duration, instead of maximum lifting of the legs and maintaining the posture for a shorter time. The ideal pose should be achieved under these guidelines.

 

Duration

 

In the initial stage, the asana should be kept steady for a duration of at least 30 seconds so as to gain its advantageous effects. With continuous practice, the duration can be increased to 1 to 1.5 minutes.

 

Variations & tips

 

1. For a start, focus should be on maintaining a slow and rhythmic breathing. This could be achieved when the pose is steady and comfortable. People often lift the legs up too high, and end up straining the body and breath. As in Niralamba Bhunjungasana(lengthening the torso to the front), think of lengthening the legs to the back of the room. Stretch the entire length of the legs, but do not tense up while doing so. Practice patience and humility in the pose.
 
2. Move into the posture in a slow, controlled& systematically way, so as to keep the awareness and ideal position in mind at all times.

 

Preparatory poses

 

1. Ardha Shalabhasana
2. Shalabhasana

 

Follow-up poses

 

1. Makarasana
2. Vajarasana Type 1 with arms relaxed by the side of the legs a.k.a child pose
3. Shavasana

 

Ancient texts

 

The ancient texts do not make a distinction such as Ardha Shalabhasana, Poorna Shalabhasana or Niralamba Shalabhasana. Shalabhasana is describe in one shloka and is slightly different from the Shalabhasana that we have studied. The 39th shloka of the second chapter of the Gherandsamhita describes :

Adhyasya shete karyugmavaksha aalambya bhoomim karayostalabhyam l
Padou cha shoonye cha vitasti cordhwam vadanti peetham shalabham munidrah ll GS 2.39


Meaning -

Lie on the ground with chest touching the ground. Both the hands should touch the ground near the chest. Lift up the legs from the ground until a distance 6/7 inches is achieved. This asana has been described by the Rishis as Shalabhasana. Here, both the hands touch the ground and then the legs are lifted up, so the support of the hands is available. In Niralamb Shalabhasan, no such support is available. However, the ancient texts does not describe the effects of the asana. Hatha Yoga Pradipika does not describe this asana.