Learning to Love the Locust: Sivananda Yoga Posture Stories
By Mahadevi (Robyn Hennon)
Over time, our experience of yoga asanas evolves beyond the physical — the postures become our teachers and companions, showing us our relationship with ourselves and the world. Enjoy this collection of stories submitted by Sivananda Yoga practitioners from around the world, sharing their in-depth connections with each asana of the Sivananda sequence.
Every Sivananda class I would feel a wave of peace and bliss, feeling myself rise above the challenges of daily life — until it was time to practice the locust.
The locus, by far, was my least favorite posture. Not only did I despise the posture itself, but even getting into it was a pain. It was an uncomfortable process of squeezing my arms together beneath my body while trying to get my chin to the floor. I felt my elbows pressing into my internal organs and it was hard to breathe. And once it came time to lift my legs off the ground, I’d muster up all my might to lift up my legs one measly inch. I would think every time,
“This posture doesn’t seem worth the effort.”
In one particular asana class as I was preparing for my most dreaded pose, the teacher said that if you tell yourself that you love a posture, it will come true. She said she knew it sounded crazy, but it still works. I didn’t buy it.
As the teacher was instructing us to bring our arms beneath our bodies and I felt my elbows squashed beneath me, I thought, “I love the locust. This is my favorite posture.” I thought it sarcastically, of course.
The next time I was preparing to practice the locust, I remembered what the teacher said. Again, I sarcastically thought, “Here comes my favorite pose!”
After a few more times of practicing the locust with sarcasm running my mind, I noticed that the posture started to get a little easier. Could this be? Does positive thinking actually work?
When I started to see these minor improvements, I felt more motivated to improve my locust practice. Every Sivananda Yoga class when it came time to prepare for it, I would become very concentrated and focused on my breathing. I used my breath to help lift my legs higher, and my back was actually becoming stronger too. While just a few practices before I was only able to lift my legs an inch, I was soon able to lift them 12 inches.
I kept improving more and more each time. My arms didn’t hurt as much, my back was stronger, and my small progressions kept me going. Sure enough, there was one class when I thought to myself, “Here comes my favorite pose,” and it surprisingly no longer felt sarcastic. I couldn’t believe it. The locust actually became my favorite pose.
To me, this story isn’t about the locust. It’s about the power of positive thinking — something that I never believed in until I learned to love the locust, my most dreaded pose. Positive thinking isn’t about blindly believing something is true when it isn’t, but it’s about training your thoughts. The locust taught me that practicing a new thought, even if it’s new and strange, can help strengthen that belief.
Whether we understand it or not, we do choose our thoughts. With just the power of positive thinking, I was able to change my thought from “Oh no, not this posture again,” to “Here comes my favorite pose.” This was a powerful lesson for me, and even though it’s not always easy and it does take time, I now pick out the thoughts in my mind that I want to change.
This is one of the ways that yoga has changed my life. It’s not only the postures themselves that have changed me, but rather the teachings of yoga that showed me the power I have within — I’m the one who can change my life. And for me, that’s what made all the difference.
Every week from January 1 – March 26, 2018, we will be sharing a new story — You can access all of the current ones here.