Once you are in this posture, there's no turning back….but it's only 10 seconds! Short and sweet with huge benefits, Balancing Stick is there to challenge and test your physical and mental strength. It's a heart starter and muscle burner.
When you first start to do this posture, don't worry if you can't get your body parallel to the floor or looking like a 'capital T'. Even if you lift your foot off the floor one inch and stay there, with your body in a straight line, from the tips of your index fingers to your toes, you will be getting huge benefits. Slowly, day by day, you will come down lower.
The aim is to keep your body in a straight line, no 'broken umbrellas!', and feel your heart rate pick up. To keep your body in a straight line, you have to activate every muscle in the body, no floppy limbs, thus your heart rate picks up.
The set-up is vital:
Keep your body straight and strong, stretch up and lean back slightly. Switch on every muscle and suck your stomach in as this will help to stabilise your body and help you balance throughout the posture. Pivot from the hips and lift your back leg off the floor one inch, point your toes. As you build strength you will come down more. Try not to just drop your chest to the floor, keep your body in a straight line, arms with your ears. Your body is a stick!
Your standing leg is strong, thigh muscle tight, but also use your inner thighs and glutes and distribute the weight across your foot. Don't let your standing leg bend to 'absorb' all of the weight, just to maintain balance. Like all the other 'one-legged poses', you need to balance on a strong foundation and build strength in the leg.
Chin is off the chest and your eyes are looking forward – don't crunch your neck and tilt it to look forward, you want to keep your neck in line with your spine – don't raise the head. Look for the toes of the standing foot in the mirror.
Your leg is never as high as you think it is, so lift it a little higher and then work on length, stretch your toes to the back of the room and stretch your fingertips to the mirror. If you have damaged hamstrings or a tight lower back, don't come down too far and hold the posture with strength but no pain.
As you advance in the posture, think about lowering the hip of the lifting leg so that your abdomen is parallel to the floor. The hip will always try to lift away from the ground as you lift the leg higher – hips level.
You have to learn to breathe in this posture, otherwise it will get messy – you are working the cardiovascular system which is aided by the respiratory system! Inhale as you step forward and keep the breath flowing: short, sharp breaths, calm and slow.
There is a lot going on and blood is cursing through your body, improving your circulation whilst you are strengthening all the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, glutes, upper and lower legs, plus the abs! The better you get at this posture, the more it will improve other postures, like locust.
When you step back, do so with as much strength and balance as possible. Relax your shoulders a little, take a breath and get ready for the other side.
Come down absolutely straight, and use your strength immediately – Bikram