The Spine Strengthening Series in Bikram Yoga Series does just as its name suggests and helps strengthen the spine. It is a group of four postures at two sets, each between Wind Removing Pose and Fixed Firm. These are the only set of postures done while laying on your stomach and can be pretty demanding if you are not breathing in it.
The Spine Strengthening comprises four poses that are in order as follows: Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, and Floor Bow. Each of these postures works on different spine sections and has immense healing and strengthening properties. Between postures, you take turns looking to the side of the room with the ear on the towel with the palms facing the ceiling. After the first set, look to the right and after the second set, look to the left. I will go through each posture in the Spine Strengthening Series in-depth in this post, so let's get started.
The first posture in the Spine Strengthening Series is the Cobra Pose. It is called Bhujangasana in Sanskrit and translates into English as follows: Bhujanga means "snake" or "serpent," and Asana means "posture" or "seat." After coming out of Wind Removing, you need to lay on your stomach with the chin and eyes forward after doing your sit-up. Place the hands on the floor in front of you with palms facing down. Your little fingers are in line with the outside of the shoulders. Bring the elbows in towards the body. Press the legs and feet together like a cobra's tail. Make sure the tops of the feet into the floor.
Take an inhale and lift the upper body up using your spine strength, not your hands, as a push-up. The hands are mostly there as a guide not to push you up into the pose. Lift your upper body to your navel and bring elbows in towards the body. Try and press the tops of your feet, shins, thighs, and hips into the floor to give yourself a base to lift from. Look another spot on the mirror and bring the neck and spine more in alignment. Change and come out of the posture and look to the right with the left ear on the towel. The palms should be facing the ceiling and focus your eye gaze on a signal spot. Do two sets at twenty seconds each, but look to the left with your right ear on the towel when done with the second set.
The second posture in the Spine Strengthening Series is Locust Pose. The name of the posture in Sanskrit is Salabhasana and translates into English as follows: Salabha has the meaning of "locust" or "grasshopper," and Asana means "seat" or "posture." To start the posture, lay on your stomach with the chin forward and your eye gaze forward. You need to bring your arms underneath your body with the palms facing down. The arms come so far underneath the body that the elbows come underneath you.
This can be uncomfortable at first, but you will feel more comfortable in the pose over time. Bring your feet and thighs together with the tops of the feet into the floor. You should shift the weight of the pose into the upper body and press the fingers into the floor. Relax the left leg and lift the right leg perfectly straight with both hips on the floor. How high you lift the leg is not as crucial as how straightforward you keep the leg while raised. Contract the thigh and lock out the knee and lift your right leg once more. You do the exact same thing on the left side of the body.
In the third part of Locust, you bring both arms more underneath the body with your chin still forward, and your legs are like a cobra's tail. Bring your mouth to the towel to protect the neck during the pose. Everything below the waist is pressed together and compact with the tops of the feet into the floor Shift the weight of the pose into the upper body and lift both legs up perfectly straight. Again it does not matter how high you lift the legs, just how straight you can get them. Lower down and look to the side of your mat. You do two sets of Locust with about fifteen seconds for each posture.
The third pose in the Spine Strengthening Series is the Full Locust Pose. This posture in Sanskrit is called Poorna Salabhasana and breaks down in Sanskrit as follows: Poorna means "full," Salabha means "locust or "grasshopper," and Asana means "seat" or "posture." As with the other poses in Spine Strengthening, you do the pose while laying on your stomach. Your chin is forward, and you spread your arms out like airplane wings to either side of the room. Hands are all five fingers together, and palms are flat on the floor. Zip up your legs and press the thighs together with the muscles below the waist engaged. Take an inhale and lift your arms, chest, head, and shoulders up off the floor.
Your arms stretch out to the sides of the room with shoulders pulling in opposite directions. You do lift your legs in the pose but really focus on the upper body in this pose. Focus on raising from the middle back and keep the fingertips aligned with your head. You should be balancing on your hips, and as you go further into the pose in your upper body, you start to focus more on lifting your legs. You look up and lift one spot higher with fingers still aligned with your head. Lower down and look to the side of the room. Do two sets of Locust at ten seconds each.
The final posture in the Spine Strengthening Series is the Bow Pose. The Bow Pose is called Dhanurasana in Sanskrit and translates into English as follows: Dhanu has the meaning of "bow," and Asana means "seat" or "posture." As with all Spine Strengthening Series poses, you start the pose by laying on your stomach. You need to grab the feet from the outside with the hold two inches below the toes. Bring your knees more together with the feet aligned with the shoulders. Keep the arms and wrists straight with chin and eyes forward. Take an inhale and lift your legs up with the feet pressing up towards the back wall. You lift up your feet up and then look up with the eyes higher on the wall in front of you. You are now doing a backward bend of your whole spine, including the neck.
The knees never go wide beyond your shoulders, and eventually, the only touching the floor should be the hips. Try and lift your heels up towards the ceiling. You need to start out slow going into this posture with maximum effort at the end since it is longer than the other postures. Keep the arms and wrists straight and come up and look up one spot higher. Lower yourself down and look to the side of the room. You do two sets of Bow at twenty-five seconds each.
The Spine Strengthening Series in the Bikram Hot Yoga Series is a group of postures done all in a row that do as the name says and strengthen the spine. Each posture works the spine differently: Cobra works the lower spine, Locust works the upper spine, Full Locust works the middle spine, and Bow works the whole spine. All four postures are backbends that significantly strengthen and whole the entire spine from top to bottom. Spine Strengthening can be very demanding, but the time and effort you put into it is well worth it.