“Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it,” Madonna advises, but she has practiced Bikram yoga, so she knows it ain’t so in the studio. If you strike a pose quickly, the pose may strike you back and knock you down. And there’s never nothing to it. Poses built carefully, respectfully, piece by piece, gesture by gesture, have ease, grace, and stability.
Students often try to strike balancing stick without the requisite preparation, perhaps because we are told to get there in one second. But to make that fast motion depends on first having painstakingly organized diverse body parts into a single solid unit–the “stick.”
Students often assemble the stick piecemeal, maybe first bending the torso forward, maybe then lifting the leg to try to get it parallel, then maybe straightening it, then maybe extending the arms to parallel, and maybe finally lifting the chin–if they get that far without falling out. Every movement of these five body parts takes time and demands further compensatory adjustments, so the pose truly is “over” as the teachers declare, before they have achieved the balance.
The idea in balancing stick is to first make the stick: to meld all those body parts into one unit before you travel to parallel. When the instruction indicates to lengthen the arms, this sets them in line with the torso, and the instruction to glue the deltoids to the ears gets the neck aligned. When the instruction asks to lock knees and to point the toes of the to-be-raised leg, this completes the assembly of a rigid stick, from fingertips to neck to coccyx to toes. You are one long piece. No adjustments to make, nothing to align. Just keep it tight.
All the real work is done then, and only then is there nothing to it. Hinge from the hips and rotate the stick down. Strike the pose.