162
THE ASANAS
Floor
Locust pose, also known as belly-down boat pose, can
be helpful for relieving back pain. Elongating your spine
in this way helps to counteract poor posture and related
issues, as muscles along your back and legs engage to
hold each end of your body o the ground.
THE BIG PICTURE
This pose particularly strengthens your back muscles, buttocks,
and thighs as you lift your legs and shoulders from the ground.
It can be challenging, but you dont have to lift very high to
get the benefits of the pose.
LOCUST
Salabhasana
Lower legs
Your gastrocnemius and
soleus engage to plantarex
your ankles while your tibialis
anterior muscles and other
ankle dorsiexors are in a
stretched position.
Toes
pointed
Upper body
relaxed
Leg lengthens
up and away
VARIATION
If you have neck issues,
place your forehead on
your hands and lift one
leg at a time, trying to
keep both of your front
hip points toward the
ground. Hold for several
breaths, then switch legs.
Thighs
Your hip extensors engage to
help you lift your thighs, while
your hip exors stretch. Your
quadriceps engage to
extend your knees.
Soleus
Gastrocnemius
Tibialis anterior
Knee
Ankle
Hip
Tensor fasciae latae
Iliopsoas
Biceps femoris (short head)
Gluteus maximus
Biceps femoris (long head)
Vastus lateralis
Rectus femoris
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163
Neck and arms
Your cervical extensors
engage to extend your neck,
and your cervical exors
engage while lengthening to
stabilize your neck, preventing
throwing your head back and
creating an even curve in your
spine. Your posterior deltoids,
latissimus dorsi, and teres
major muscles engage to
extend your shoulders,
while your triceps extend
your elbows.
ALIGNMENT
As you lift your shoulders and
legs, focus on elongating your
spine. Reach the crown of your
head forward and upward, and
aim for an even-feeling curve
all the way along your spine,
including in your neck.
Gaze
forward
Shoulder blades
reach together
Lengthen
spine as
you lift
Arms
reach back
Stabilize
neck into
even curve
Toes
pointed
KEY
Joints
Muscles
Engaging
Engaging while
stretching
Stretching
Splenius muscles
Sternocleidomastoid
Longus muscles
Deltoids
Triceps brachii
Elbow
Biceps brachii
Spinal extensors
Spine
Serratus anterior
Pectoralis major
Rectus abdominis
Quadratus lumborum
Torso
Your spinal extensors engage
while your abdominals and
pectoralis major stretch. Your
middle and lower trapezius
engage with your rhomboids to
retract your scapulae, while your
serratus anterior muscles
engage to help stabilize them.
Hip
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164
LOCUST
Salabhasana
CLOSER LOOK
Locust strengthens the entire back of your body, which
can be particularly helpful for improving posture and
core function. You do not have to lift yourself very far
o the ground to gain the benefits of this pose.
Feet are pointed
(in plantar
flexion)
Psoas minor
You’ll probably feel your psoas stretching
in this pose. Approximately 40 percent of
people have a psoas minor. This is further
evidence of the variation between individuals;
some people have more muscles or bones
than others. Bodies are so dierent that,
of course, each person’s expression of
a yoga pose will look unique.
Psoas minor
Psoas major
Rectus abdominis
stretches
Anterior deltoid
stretches
Crown of your
head reaches up
at a diagonal
Pectoralis major
stretches
Pressure is placed
on your intestines
Boost digestion
Poses like this can help stimulate a
bowel movement because of the oor’s
pressure on your digestive organs, and
from the engagement of your core. This
eect may be enhanced if you come in and
out of the pose several times, simulating
the rhythmic movements of your intestines.
ANTERIOR VIEW
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165
THE ASANAS
Floor
Hamstrings
engage to help
extend your hips
Rhomboids
engage
Nerves such as the
sciatic nerve can
be compressed
Degenerated disk
Disk degeneration is part of the
natural process of aging. Over time,
gravity wears down your disks. Cells,
including those in intervertebral
disks, also become drier with age,
making them less resilient, and less
resistant to gravity. Strengthening
your back muscles may help prevent
or slow these age-related changes
by supporting your spinal posture.
Tibialis anterior
stretches
Fatigued or pulled
muscles could lead
to back pain
Intervertebral
disk narrows
Disk problems such
as herniation can
lead to pain
Tensor fasciae latae
slightly stretches as
your hips extend
Annulus
fibrosus
Nucleus
pulposus
Back pain
The World Health Organization cites back pain,
particularly lower back pain, as a major cause
of disability worldwide. Research suggests that
yoga is a safe, eective, nonpharmacological,
noninvasive, and low-cost method of relieving
back pain, and pain in general.
SUPERIOR–
POSTERIOR VIEW
Lack of body
awareness can
lead to pain
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