salabhasana (locust pose)

each month we choose a pose to focus on in each class through strong attention to alignment, variations, and/or modifications as a way to grow and expand our yogic horizons.

this week asana girl is reporting from the field, having returned to her childhood hometown of el paso, texas for her 30th high school reunion. she writes:

as if the vision of high school mates 30 years out weren’t enough of a freak show in and of itself, upon stepping off the plane and into the blistering heat i quickly realized that el paso was once again under siege. and i’m not talking about the business-as-usual drug violence that spills back and forth across the border. no, this is worse. much worse. the locusts are back!

the locust swarms were one of the early horrors that i discovered upon my forced transplantation to west texas at the age of 10. like hordes of spring breakers descending upon cancun or daytona beach, these relentless little creatures seemed to include el paso in their travel plans once or twice a decade and, apart from devouring everything in sight (which is not much, in el paso), they also possessed a natural predisposition to dive-bombing one’s hair,clothing, and personal space. each morning’s walk across the desert mesa toward school felt like a reenactment of the plagues of egypt from cecil b. demille’s the ten commandments (except there was no buff, bald, and beautiful yul brynner waiting in the wings).

so when i noticed the ground moving while dragging my luggage toward my rental car yesterday,my first reaction was, “100-degree heat, high school cliques that have endured into middle age, and locusts, too?”

it was only when i sat down later in the day to blog about july’s asana of the month that i realized what a synchronistic event my return to el paso during the midst of a locust swarm was. indeed, locust pose was on the schedule for this month long before i planned this trip. “so is there perhaps a way,” i mused, “to appreciate the beauty and power of the real live locusts in the same way i appreciate the beauty and power of locust pose? is it possible for me to stop and appreciate their place in the cycle of life, even as i brush them from my clothing, swat them away from my hair, and extricate them from my starbuck’s double shot on ice?”

i decided to practice in the poolside garden and placed my travel mat in the one meager spot of available shade. and as i unwound and decompressed my spine from the effects of the long journey through the practice of gentle backbending, i allowed the sounds and movement of the locusts to become a part of the experience. inhaling and unfurling my body into locust pose, i imagined myself swimming powerfully through the air in the summer heat, accompanied by the whirring, clicking, buzzing song of the locust.

and while i can’t say that i’ve completely stopped swatting away the occasional flying interloper, i think i may have finally made peace with our mutual coexistence.

here’s to the sounds of summer. here’s to the ’70s. to farrah fawcett. michael jackson. and all creatures, great and small. even those locusts.

salabasana (locust pose):

• strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs
• stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs
• stimulates the abdominal organs
• improves posture
• helps relieve stress
• may have therapeutic applications for certain types of lower-back pain, indigestion, fatigue, and constipation

• serious back injury
• students with neck injuries should keep their head in a neutral position by looking down at the floor

preparatory poses:
• bhujangasana (cobra pose)
• setu bandha sarvangasana (bridge pose)
• virabhadrasana 1 (warrior 1)
• virasana (hero’s pose)

song that most comes to mind while in the posture (with live locusts present):
in remembrance of and homage to the king of pop, michael jackson’s 1982 classic: “beat it” (certified platinum in 1989).

p.s. for a distinctly different kind of homage, see:
asana girl, aka danielle polen, is a tranquil space yoga teacher.

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