Balanced Rock by Alan Vernon We all have postures in our yoga practice that we find challenging. As a Yoga instructor however, postures we dislike or avoid can become pathological gaping holes in our classes. For about 4 years, I turned a particular blind eye to anything that had me or my students standing on one leg. One reason was of course that, I didn’t want to risk falling over in a standing balance. Literally falling flat on your face does not instill confidence in one’s “yogic” abilities as a teacher. Another reason for my own avoidance, was that I couldn’t stand the tortured look on my students faces as they tried in desperation to stand on one leg. (A Note for newer yoga teachers: DO NOT LOOK AT THE FACES OF YOUR STUDENTS WHILE INSTRUCTING A MODERATE STANDING BALANCE.Even the most self-assured instructor will feel a cold chill creeping up their spine if they dare gaze upon the stone cold death stare of their students at this point in the practice. Trust me, stand at the back of the room. Imagine everyone is smiling. Pretend they still love you.) One day, while taking a class with Hart Lazer in Montreal, I was made to stand on one leg holding my other big toe. I wobbled around, felt my ankle burn, hated every moment –my typical experience of the pose. Then, he made us all repeat the posture….while standing on a chair. To be clear, the ground wasn’t far, but falling off a chair while standing on one foot was not a particularly appealing option to me, so instead of fumbling around, I took the risk of falling very seriously and I stood on one leg. The undeniable truth was that I had previously been looking for ways out of the posture, waiting for it to be over and using every uncomfortable microsecond and micro movement of my body as proof that the whole thing was a waste of time and I would never “get it”. Standing on that chair gave me a very real reason to take the posture seriously. I made sure my foundation was strong and focused on nothing other than my responsibility to breathe and do what needed to be done to make the posture work. The whole dramatic story I had been telling myself for years, with the myriad of reasons why I couldn't do the posture was just a lie. While it was true that when I began yoga, I really didn’t have the strength and stability to stand on one leg for more than a few seconds, after years of practicing, I still believed wholeheartedly I was just terrible at balance postures and that would never change. This type of insight comes up a lot in yoga and it is a helpful metaphor for how we view ourselves in the world. Most of us put so many limitations and restrictions on what we believe is possible for ourselves, often because of some outdated experience we once had. Years later, we may still be relating to that old way of being, simply because we haven’t allowed ourselves to explore what is new and possible. This is the real power of yoga and it is just waiting to be uncovered while you stand there on your mat... on one leg.