This pose strengthens the abdomen and lower back. Viparita Shalabhasana is also known as the superman pose. In this, the position of the body is similar to that of a superman flying in the sky. The superman pose is done lying upside down.
Ever wondered, who gave it the nickname, Superman, because Superman came into existence on April 18, 1938, when the first issue of action comics was released. What was it called before that? Was it really necessary to have a nickname? Would Hanuman, the Indian superhero have been a better option? After extensive research, it was difficult to find all these answers, so let’s dare to take refuge at the solace of whatever little common sense, we have. To save the tongue-twisting pronunciation of Viparita Shalabhasana, especially for a western or European tongue, an easier name, even if that was a cartoon character, satisfied the requirement. It was easy to pronounce, it was easy to relate to. A western influence cannot be ignored, as did most of the Indian works of literature that were translated into English.
Superman pose yoga exercises almost all of the muscles in our back and abdomen against gravity. This exercise strengthens the posterior chain. A strong and flexible posterior chain is important for better daily function and avoids pain or injury to the back and neck.
The asanas are different if you refer to the Haṭha yoga texts, and thus the names are given to different poses. The ancient asanas are inspired by nature, such as a form of union with symmetric, harmonious flowing shapes of animals, birds, or plants. Viparita Shalabhasana also works on a mental level. It stimulates the heart chakra, throat chakra, and Manipur chakra.
According to old yogic texts, for yogis attempting to gain long life or Mukti, the spine is of utmost significance. The spiritual process or sadhana is basically an effort to drive the energies up against gravity and the spine or back is considered as the channel through which this transition takes place. It is said that this is the highest evolutionary possibility a human can attain. Hence we find a lot of asanas designed to strengthen and make the spine flexible and function at its optimum level.
Meaning Of Viparita Shalabhasana
Viparita Shalabhasana is composed of three words, Viparita, Shalabh, and Asana. Viparita means opposite, Shalabh means a moth, and asana means a yoga posture.
Superman pose in yoga, as it seems happens to be a modern name of this asana. Viparita Shalabhasana is a preparatory asana that prepares your body to perform a more complex set of back-bending asanas.
An easier variant of this asana is Shalabhasana (Locust Yoga Pose).
Superman Pose Benefits
Let us see the Superman Pose Benefits.
- Creates a stretch in the chest
- Smoothens blood flow
- Strengthens the muscles of shoulders, chest, limbs, abdomen, and lower back.
- Massages the spinal cord
- Helps concentrate
- Improved posture
The Viparita Shalabhasana or the Superman pose in yoga will not provide us with the ability to jump off high buildings or fly in the air, but it will surely help to prevent injury to the back and a better mind-muscle connection to your lower back. It will also help you to actually be aware of the muscles in your back, so even if you are doing any other form of exercise, superman asana is advisable.
Steps Of Viparita Shalabhasana
- Step 1. Lie on your stomach, keep your ankles straight, rest your chin on the ground. Bring your feet close to each other and keep your toes together.
- Step 2. Stretch your hands forward as far as possible.
- Step 3. Inhale and lift your arms, legs, chest, and thighs above the ground. You will look like a flying superhero, Superman in this situation. Bring a smile to your face. Maintain the pull in arms and legs in the opposite direction rather than trying to lift them higher. The elbows and ankles should not be bent. Focus on the stretch in the body.
- Step 4. While you exhale, slowly lower your chest, arms, and legs back to the start position. This completes 1 cycle of asana. You can repeat this as per your comfort level.
- The key is to go slow and not push.
Time And Duration
Try to remain in this position as long as you can. For beginners, try to be in this position for 1 to 2 minutes
As superman asana involves stretching the digestive organs, it is advisable to do it in the morning. Due to the mental boost, improved blood and oxygen circulation, better breathing, and flexibility that this asana provides, it is best to do in the morning so that you reap the full advantages of this asana throughout the day. However, if doing it in the morning is not possible, you can do it in the evening. Make sure to have a gap of at least 3-5 hours between having a meal and doing superman asana.
Seek Expert Advice
It is always advisable to attempt asanas in the presence of or after consulting an expert.
- If you are pregnant
- If you have recently undergone abdominal surgery or hernia
- If you feel the tension in your neck
- If you have back problems, neck problems, spinal cord or hand injury
Viparita Shalabhasana For Beginners
For a beginner, the superman pose yoga may be uncomfortable, difficult, cause the body to shake, and impossible to hold on to for a long time. Slowly with practice, determination, and motivation, the muscle strength and tone will grow and the struggle to hold the pose will slowly minimize. According to the Haṭha yoga texts, one yields maximum benefit from a posture when the “effort disappears”, no longer any thoughts of posture difficulty arises in mind, normal breathing starts, and you may transition to meditation from asana. However, if you feel pain in the neck when touching the chin down, you can place your lip on the ground and gradually transition placing your chin on the ground as your body allows.
Most of us have spent years educating ourselves, mastering our act, gaining a certain level of mastery over whatever we specialize in but one fundamental thing we forget to learn is how to not rush. As you would agree, the moment we start to rush, we miss the beauty of being born as a human. If as a youth our generation were just taught the difference between being lazy and not rushing, I think we would have been more developed evolutionarily. That would have helped us live our lives more responsibly, giving it more purpose and meaning, and fulfillment. The greatest problems include the people holding the important positions, especially in the corporate world, if they are themselves not at ease, they would not be able to identify this asset in any other people. They would easily misinterpret it as laziness. As a result, there will be a waste of talent and possibilities that the at-ease people can bring in any institution or the society. Similarly, there will be a lot of lazy people trying to look like at-ease people, who would again give rise to more and more inspectors rather than leaders in the corporates and the world around.
All the great people that spend some part of their lives as disorganized, bad eaters, agitated, dull individuals and transitioned to great beings, this is the common thread in all. Something in their lives happened, which transpired them to break their karma and transform themselves into fruitful, ever contributing, and productive individuals not only economically but also on the human sensitivity level. They stopped rushing through life and started breathing.
This is what Yoga does. It teaches you not to rush. In other words, it conducts you in such a way you stop being stressed out, burnt out. The external events that happen around us are not 100% in our control all the time, but our bodies and mind are to a great extent controllable.
All the stressed-out, burnt-out people with endless possibilities, let us take control of ourselves and start with this asana called Viparita Shalabhasana.