“Balancing stick is a ten-second pose. You can do anything for just ten seconds.” I laughed the first time I heard a teacher say this, and even now that I’ve heard it hundreds of times, I still sometimes laugh. Even if it’s only just for ten seconds, can I really do anything? Sing like Aretha Franklin? Strategize like Mayor Bloomberg? Doubtful.
But I can hold balancing stick for ten seconds. I make a seesaw plank of myself from fingertips to toes, step onto that lone foot, and hew to my center at every degree as I tilt down to parallel the floor.
On a good day, when I am feeling strong, I lengthen and take Bikram’s famous “give yourself a heart attack” stretch. On a really good day, I am weightless in the pose. Standing bow-pulling pose may be fancier, but balancing stick done just right is like defying gravity.
Maybe that is what Aretha Franklin feels like when she is scatting or Mayor Bloomberg when he fixes a broken bit of New York City.
There’s a weightier aspect too. If I can do the improbable physical stunt of staying level for ten seconds, it raises the possibility that I can do other difficult things for just ten seconds, such as stop obsessing about love or money or my injuries. And if I can forget my troubles for ten seconds, maybe I can forget them for twenty, or for an hour. Maybe I can defy the gravity of my woes habitually, forevermore.
With balancing stick, I learn to endure. The other day, I got a searing cramp in my calf during camel–and rather than ending my backbend to flex away the cramp, I decided to persevere and not let a little pain ruin a big pleasure. It was just twenty seconds. See how the time grows?
P.S.- Has your practice changed your mental or physical endurance? Post a comment. Tell your story.