Salabhasana is the first back bending asana of the second Ashtanga series. For me it became an important asana: It’s an asana that requires strength. Gravity holds the feet and upper body on the floor. The muscles of the back side of the body can overcome this force.
But first a story:
When my back felt better again I started practicing second series again. I lied on my abdomen, ready for salabhasana. I couldn’t lift my feet at all. There was no connection to body. First I laughed. Then I gave the order: lift, lift. Nothing moved. Exactly that’s the feeling of paralyzed people I thought. I don’t know of course. What to do? I moved my hands under my thighs and supported the movement. Finally my legs could lift. The feeling what to do came back. From that moment on I knew how important this asana is. Having strong back muscles also protects from injuries. All joints are safer when strong muscles surround them.
When I practice salabhasana these days I always add extra asanas:
I usually start with a dynamic exercise. I swing one leg upwards up to 10 times, sometimes also only 5 times. After each time I change sides. I do three sets.
Then I do the exercise with both legs which is much more difficult. Often I only manage it to lift the legs 5 times. Here too, I have a dynamic phase and a static phase. The static phase means that I lift the legs and hold the position as long as possible. Of course it’s possible to use a timer.
Then do some exercises for the upper body. I start with the dynamic exercise and finish with the static exercise. The hand position in picture 3 is rather easy. The arms pull me up so to say.
The arm position in picture makes this variation rather challenging. The elbows shall move backwards. I start with a dynamic exercise. Then I try to hold this variation.
After these exercises salabhasana A and B are much better. I use my hands to support my legs. Yet it’s rather an impulse than a support.
Some yogini through their heads back. My neck is not that flexible. I also think that the form of a banana looks more harmonious. To have a steep curve at the neck looks not very natural. But we all have different bodies.
There are so many variations. Enjoy the ride. Work on a strong back to avoid injuries.