The Rise Of The Locust
Probably one of the least popular yoga poses out there, the locust pose (or salabhasana) requires strength, flexibility and willpower. Whenever students hear the cue that it’s next in class, gentle groans reverberate around the studio. In this blog I share my story and explain why you should embrace rather than fear locust pose and why you should make it part of your regular practice.
Unlike most postures, which are done slowly, you achieve Locust by making a single powerful contraction of the lower back muscles. This simultaneously brings together thought, breath, movement and energy. Of all the asanas, this is the one that works most on developing will power, which is said to make one’s thoughts pure and powerful.
Like most people, I struggled for years with this pose. I’d lift my feet 12-18 inches off the floor, working hard to maintain the pose but I’d nearly always release before the instructor said to. I just wasn’t that into it and had no real desire to progress. If I’m honest, I lacked motivation because I had no inspiration. I’d only ever seen the full pose in books, I’d never actually met a real person that could do it. So I didn’t have a clear vision of where I could get to, or of what was achievable.
Then one day I got the inspiration I so desperately needed. As was the norm for me, I’d released from the pose early and was relaxing in Makarasana (crocodile pose) with my head turned to the right. Normally I like to complete my entire practice with my eyes closed but for some reason I felt drawn to open my eyes….and boy am I glad I did! Practicing next to me was the incredibly inspiring yogi, Jaya, now also a great friend. As I opened my eyes I caught a glimpse of her slowly lowering her toes down onto her head! I was in awe! Wow, so this pose was actually possible! After admiring her posture I closed my eyes and continued with the remainder of the class. But I left that class inspired. I had seen someone accomplish the pose firsthand and I knew the pose was attainable. I had a renewed determination to master the pose and I set an intention to focus on it in every practice. I started to notice that I was gradually increasing the height I could lift my feet off the ground….2ft, 2 1/2 ft, 3ft off the ground. I was making progress. I worked hard and within four months, with determination, concentration and willpower I managed to get my feet up over my head. The pure joy at having achieved the very thing you have working hard towards is priceless. I have by no means mastered the pose, it’s still very much a work in progress. I can’t manage it every session (I listen to my body), I still have some work to do to get my feet touching my head and I bend my knees on the ascent to make it a little easier but I am determined to get there one day!
I am advanced yogi and you need a great deal of strength and flexibility to get into full locust pose so I can’t promise you’ll get there in 4 months. But what I’ve learned is that strength and flexibility alone won’t get you there. You also need inspiration and determination.
Strength and flexibility you can work on over time. For me, inspiration for something so challenging is hard to come by from a text book. I hope by sharing my story and my journey with locust pose I have inspired you to embrace this pose and use every opportunity to further your practice so that you too can one day experience the sheer bliss at being able to achieve this intense pose. The determination you need to accomplish this challenging pose you will have to find within yourself!