Transitions Are Places Too

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 in Breath and Body | Comments Off on Transitions Are Places Too

Transitions Are Places Too

For years my yoga practice was a run-and-gun event of huffing and puffing, dragging my leg here, dropping it there.  The sounds coming off of my mat rivaled a stampede.  After a long time of working on my abdominal engagement, I found I was much better able to lift my legs with control and place them more softly at the front of the mat, or to gracefully lift them back into three-legged dog.  More than muscle engagement, though, it took mindfulness.  I was simply unaware of how clunky my practice was until I noticed someone else’s that wasn’t.

I stood at the head of my yoga mat, instructing a class at the beautiful studio I was teaching at in Sudbury called Cedar Street Yoga (hey dudes!).  Practicing in the back corner was my friend (and studio owner, long time yoga teacher) Jen.  As I worked students through poses and demonstrated from the front, I found myself drawn to her movement.  Every moment, every transition was intentional.  Poses flowed into one another not with apparent effort, but with grace.  Rather than rushing from place to place, I noticed that she really took her time, finding her way into the best expression of each pose.  You could see that even during the moments between, she was integrated, mindful and aware of herself in space.  Witnessing this, and realizing the stark contrast with my own practice, changed how I moved on the mat.

In our lives, transitions are often cast-away moments.  Our minds wander on to the next thing as we move habitually, robotically even, without presence.  How often have you made your way home from work and arrived seemingly suddenly, unaware that you had completely checked out?  You may also find that a bit of fear lingers in places of transition, for example moving between one job and another, an old house and a new house, a past relationship and a fresh one.  Transitions are periods of flux- and change can be scary, of continuous movement in a direction that can often distract us from being immediate.  Intend to bring mindfulness to the lost moments of your day, as they too are your life!

Back on the mat, look to the spaces in between poses as a place to hone your practice.  Can you hug in with your core, engage your bandhas (more on this later!), lift and place arms and legs with grace and intention?  Let this be a place to grow.  A yoga practice can be both strong and elegant if you remain mindful of the movement, everywhere at every time.  If you’re used to jumping back to Chatturanga and hopping up to the front of the mat (or if your ego tells you to keep plowing away at it), try slowly moving your legs into position with a deep hold from your core.  And slow down.  Give your body time to feel itself within the motions happening as you go into and come out of your poses.  Transitions are places worthy of your time and effort, and with attentiveness they may well be the key to lifting your practice up to the next level, to a place of strength, stability and maybe even a touch of grace.

All content by Lisa Veronese. Please do not publish or copy my material without my consent.