Here is the next in the series of Posture Tips – the powerful Balancing Stick Pose!
(10 seconds in this posture is reputedly to be the equivalent to 10 minutes on a treadmill – I know which I prefer!)
The last of the “three” balancing postures is a doozy! This posture is only held for 10 seconds but can be a great workout for the whole of the body. As with all Bikram postures I believe preparation and alignment is key to not only getting the best out of a posture but also making it more enjoyable. Nothing feels great if you are just trying to hang in there and the body is all twisted so prepare first and you’ll find it really helps. It’ll tone you up much more too!
This one takes your determination and focus as you are not really in a natural position for the body – standing on one leg and trying to keep the body and arms parallel to the floor is not something the body is accustomed to! But it can be done!
Preparation for Balancing Stick Pose
Start as normal with your feet together and raise the arms up – hands just like in Half Moon Pose i.e. place the palms together right to the wrist, interlock the fingers and release the index finger and cross the thumbs. This makes the body know you mean business! Just like most the postures keep the head glued in between the arms and don’t let the two body parts separate. Most beginners will try and keep their head up to see where they are going but when the head and arms are separated the energy is dissipated and you won’t feel as strong. Keep the chin up so you can breathe and bring the body back a couple of inches – this will again open up the chest allowing you to have more puff for the posture!
As you inhale, take a big step forward on the right foot and then ensure both knees are locked. I find if I point my left toes too it really allows the leg to be straight – both legs locked to begin with gives you a lot of “oomph” to do this posture.
Let’s go – 10 seconds only!
Then in one piece the whole body pivots like a see saw and then comes to a balance in the middle. I often say to my students – imagine you are like a steel bar with no bends in the middle – that’s how much you need to keep straight so you don’t end up like the “broken umbrella” as Bikram so eloquently puts it! Broken umbrellas – weak, steel bars – strong! Imagine yourself in a T – parallel to the floor – you can feel it when you have it.
Keep those legs locked and toes pointed and you’re sorted! The other challenging part is keeping the arms upright – mine tend to try and dive bomb a bit and your arms will pull you down if you let them. So again it’s just practice to keep lifting them so they stay parallel to the floor.
While you are in this posture there is no let up – try to continuously stretch forward and backward as if someone is pulling your foot and another is pulling your arms – like a good ol’ tug-o-war! One of Bikram’s favourite words for the arm part is “as if the scapula is coming out of the body”! Body down – leg up – every muscle contracted!
You will need to look forward but keep the head down securely cradled in between those lovely strong, locked arms! Where your eyes go your body will follow – you want to go forward so look forward!
Once you start to improve on this posture after lots of practice you can start to fine tune – like rolling the hip of the airborne leg down a bit to ensure your hips are parallel to the floor. Then you can gauge whether your legs or arms need to be higher or lower but all this comes in time and when you are ready to make some improvements.
At last the 10 seconds are over, inhale and come back to centre. Rinse and repeat on the other side and then give the second set all your muster! I feel worked out just by writing this!
Summary of the Main Points of Balancing Stick Pose
- Keep the arms strong by locking them and glueing the palms together
- Head is glued in between the arms throughout the posture
- Body is back a little – open the chest to allow you to inhale properly
- Keep the chin away from the chest so you can breathe
- Pivot the whole of the body in one piece – don’t separate at the waist!
- Eyes forward – look forward
- Keep every muscle contracted for the whole posture, stretching forward and pointing toes
- Aim to keep the arms and legs locked
- Pull in the tummy – that will give you a lot of core strength to hold this posture more easily
The Benefits of Balancing Stick Pose
- Opens up the chest and works the heart
- Develops determination, focus and concentration
- Increases body strength like nothing else!
- Tones up every part of the body and it only takes 10 seconds – love it!
Next up is Standing Separate Leg Stretching – my favourite “feel good” posture!