Can We Talk About Tuladandasana - "Balancing Stick"?

Seriously. Let's talk about this posture. Because I've seen very few people teach it in a way that allows the students to really understand how to get into this posture in a way that will give them the most benefit.

Tuladandasana (Sanskrit for Balancing Stick pose) is a quick posture. It is a cardiovascular posture. Teachers often call it "Your mini heart attack that prevents a real heart attack." And it is just that. Holding the posture for the 10 seconds that we ask you to is long enough to get the benefits.

Yet... Teachers hold it longer. Mostly because they are trying too hard to say the dialogue that we are taught to go with it. Attempting to squeeze in ever word of the dialogue. It's a shame.

Yes. The dialogue we are taught at yoga training is helpful in being a guide to get students in and out of the posture safely. But at a certain point - to be quite frank, before you even are allowed to go to training - you should be comfortable enough with the practice itself that you know the critical components of the posture. And the dialogue is just an additional tool to educate you. And while you should be using the dialogue mostly when you teach,  nothing peeves me more than when I see teachers bumbling over the words and holding posture longer than they need to be simply because they pride themselves on "only teaching dialogue."

Anyways... Enough of my dialogue rant.

Back to the posture.

In the case of this posture, the dialogue does and doesn't really give you all the cues to understanding how to do the posture.

What tends to happen is that students get into the first part of the posture...

Feet are together. Arms are over your head. Chin us up. Arms stay with the ears during the whole posture. You're already stretching up... A stretching feeling that you are supposed to maintain throughout the whole pose - especially when you are in it.

But getting into it - the part that comes next - is what confuses people.

We ask students to step forward. We tell them "a big step" and to "lock both knees."  And most students think that means that locking both knees is all they have to do... That this is setting them up to execute the posture and get the full benefits.

It does not.

Yes. I said it. (Wrote it, actually.) It is only part of the process to not only achieving the full benefits, and there is a whole piece of information missing that will make it EASIER for students to get into the posture.

Want to know what it is?

Okay. You do step forward. I actually never take a big step. I think that part is actually confusing. In my experience, you don't need it. But others may disagree.

You DO lock both knees. Absolutely.  That part is CRITICAL. Your arms should be nice and tight - still stretching up towards the ceiling. And both legs should be nice and tight. Locked out. In fact, (and here's the secret to this pose) your legs should be so locked out that the weight is in the front leg and the back leg is already off of the floor.

Yep. You are already BALANCING on the front leg while leg is still low, because you have moved all of your weight into the front locked leg. This makes it MUCH easier to move into the last part of the pose... The part that gives you that "mini heart attack" and gives you that cardiovascular element...

If you are already locked out and balanced before you come down like a "perfect letter T",  it actually makes it easier to achieve just that.  Your body is able to more easily get into that beautiful straight parallel to the floor line... And it actually makes it easier to keep the hip of your elevated leg down, preventing you from rotating to find your balance.

It also makes it easier for you to just focus on getting the body down and stretching continuously. 

So all you need is the 10 seconds.

I learned all about this technique from my teachers in Boston a few years before I even went to training. And when I teach, I teach the posture focusing on this method. It combines the elements of the dialogue that are critical, but also adds key insights to further what you get out of your practice.

Why did I decide to write this up?  

Well, because I have only come across one teacher since moving to California who actually teaches it with these insights. And I am hoping that other teachers will catch on. But too many stick strictly to the dialogue... Or don't stick to the dialogue and are all over the place.

I mentioned it before... Being a teacher in a class has turned me into a total judgmental betch. And yes, I realize that it's my drama to work out in my head. 

P.S. Please excise the crappy quality of the stick figure drawings.