Balancing Stick is a common posture in the Ghosh lineage. It is also in Bikram Yoga (26+2). It is essentially the same posture as what is known as Warrior 3, or Virabhadrasana 3, in Iyengar and flow styles of yoga.
The purpose of the posture in the Ghosh lineage is to 1) cultivate balance, 2) strengthen the back of the body, particularly the back of the standing leg.
In 1938, Buddha Bose instructs to keep the hands on the hips and "bend forward raising the right leg backwards".
In 1963, Dr Gouri Shankar Mukerji instructs to "balance on one leg and lift the other leg back without ending the knees (p. 119)." He says that the posture promotes balance of the body and that the muscles of the hip and back are exercised (p. 120).
In 1966, Light On Yoga by Iyengar is published. The impact of this book on yoga is immense.
In his instructions for Virabhadrasana 3 he writes about pulling and stretching. The instructions state, "Pull the back of the right thigh and stretch the arms and the left leg as if two persons are pulling you from either end (p. 74)."
Nowhere was this language of pulling and stretching found in the Ghosh lineage instructions prior. However, after Iyengar, we do see it.
In 1978, Bikram Choudhury writes in Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class, "The only way to keep your tummy and chest and left leg safe is to stretch your torso forward like crazy by lifting, ever lifting your arms and head, while you stretch more and backward with the pointed foot and ever more forward with the fingertips, all the while lifting at front and back (p. 65)."
This is a little wordy and indirect, but still introducing the idea of stretching while in the pose. However, by 2007 the instruction is nearly identical to Iyengar's. Choudhury writes in Bikram Yoga, "Imagine a tug of war: Someone is pulling your back foot toward the wall with all his might and someone else is pulling your outstretched hands as hard as she can in the opposite direction (p. 132)."
Iyengar's instructions have most certainly influenced how Balancing Stick is taught. We feel this is somewhat unfortunate for the following reason: the purpose of the posture is lost if we focus not on the standing leg and balance, but on the outstretched arms and back foot. (The concept of traction or stretching in opposite directions is also misleading, but that's for another blog....)
Regardless, it's interesting to note the similarities in the postures and the evolution of the instructions.
84 Yoga Asanas by Buddha Bose
84 Yoga Asanas by Gouri Shankar Mukerji
Light On Yoga by BKS Iyengar
Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class by Bikram Choudhury & Bonnie Reynolds
Bikram Yoga by Bikram Choudhury
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
- The 113 Postures of Ghosh Yoga
- Make the Hamstrings Strong, Not Long
- Understanding Chair Posture
- Lock the Knee History
- It Doesn't Matter If Your Head Is On Your Knee
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
- 5 Reasons To Backbend
- Origins of Standing Bow
- The Traditional Yoga In Bikram's Class
- What About the Women?!
- Through Bishnu's Eyes
- Why Teaching Is Not a Personal Practice