Salambhasana is a simple yet subtle pose that strengthens the back, legs, and arms. There are several different related poses that all bear the name locust. The version we describe here is also sometimes referred to as a prone boat. When people think of the core, they often just think of the abs, but it is important to work the muscles on the back side of the body in order to achieve balanced strength.
Start by laying face down on the floor with your hands by your waist, palms up. Some people take a little extra padding by placing a blanket under their pelvis. Let the thighs rotate inward and tuck the tailbone slightly. On an inhale lift the arms, chest and thighs away from the floor. Roll the shoulders back and reach the heart forward as you lift, but keep the palms facing up. Lift the back of the shoulders up toward the ceiling and firm the shoulder blades on the back. Lengthen back through the fingertips and at the same time reach the crown of the head forward. Try not to gaze too far down or too far up. Let the curve of the neck continue the curve of the spine. Although Iyengar and others have the neck thrown back in this pose, keeping the neck relatively neutral will help you avoid any compression in the neck.
Keep the legs straight as you lift them up by keeping the quads engaged. Think about lifting the thighs, not the feet. Press back through the toes, trying to lengthen the distance from the toes to the crown of the head. The glutes will be engaged here, but try not to let them harden. The thighs should stay inwardly rotated and the lift should come from the muscles of the back as well as the hamstrings. As you rotate the thighs inward (using the glute medius and minimus), they have a tendency to come apart, so you will need to engage the adductors to keep the legs together.
To lessen the intensity of the pose, you can keep the hands on the floor by the waist and press into the palms to help with the lift. Conversly, if you would like to add intensity to the pose, you can reach the arms out in front, palms turned up (or relatively so) and lift them along with the torso as you come into the pose.
In the beginning you may only be able to stay up for a couple of breaths, but you can slowly increase the amount of time spent in the pose as you gain strength.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!