Locust and Cobra (Salabhasana & Bhujangasana)
Foundation poses for deeper backbends.
They open your chest and stretch your shoulders and belly. They tone the legs and buttocks. They stimulate the abdominal organs and kidneys, help digestion and relieve gastric problems. They also improve strength and flexibility to the entire back, relieve pain in the sacral and lumbar regions.
Place yourself on the floor face down. You can place a folded blanket under your hips and ribs for comfort. Bring your arms along side your body, palms up. As you exhale lift your chest, legs and arms off the floor. Keep your knees straight and try to lift your thighs. Contract your buttocks. Keep your shoulders rolled back and elbows straight. Extend through your toes and fingers. Contract your back muscles to increase the lift and try to keep your neck soft and extended to avoid compression. Stay in the pose for 5 breaths or more. If you have neck issues you may want to keep your head/neck in neutral position.
Lie on the floor face down. Place your elbows under your shoulders with forearms parallel. Move your shoulders back and down away from your ears to create space around your neck . Move your blades in toward the spine. Extend your legs through your toes and keep your feet together. To support your back keep your legs active by pressing them down into the floor, drop your tailbone, press your pubis into the floor and lift you lower belly away from the floor. These actions as well as gently rotating your thighs inwardly will protect and support your lower back and sacrum by creating space. Breathe consciously as you hold the pose.
Inhale press your hands down, straighten your arms and raise your chest. Avoid compression by maintaining a strong support with your legs, pubis and belly. Do not sink into your lower back instead lift through your sternum to create space and length in your back. Keep your focus on creating a smooth and even arch in your spine. Breathe consciously as you hold the pose.
As strength and flexibility is increased through regular practice, the pose is deepened by gradually moving the hands closer to the hips. If the head
is taken back, this should be done without compressing the neck, again length and space should be created.