“Be mindful in the transitions”. I hear myself say this so often while teaching a yoga class. The other day it came out of my mouth sort of auto-pilot-style while my students were moving through chattaranga dandasana. My next immediate thought was “what the hell do you even mean by that Katie?”. Do you ever say things so much you forget why you are saying it? I made a mental note to revisit that one later and rejoined my students back on planet earth, outside of my mind.
So later on, I did give it some thought. It does mean something to me in my yoga practice, which is why I share it with my students. As we practice, we often rush into the next pose. “Lift your right leg high and step it forward into low lunge” sometimes looks like a violently awkward attempt at break dancing. We sometimes overlook the movement of your right foot as it travels to the front of the mat, tracing an imaginary line along the way and eventually landing softly (hopefully) between your hands. That movement is a pose too. The yoga transitions are the poses between poses. The journey from one pose to another is part of the practice too. One of my favorite Buffalo evolation yoga teachers, Annie Allen, describes yoga transitions as the seams that connect the pieces. The pieces of our practice. The pieces of our life.
Much like we rush to the next pose, we often rush to the next “thing” in our lives.
“Everything will be great when…”
Fill in the blank.
“…I can do a handstand.”
“…I can hold frog pose without turning purple.”
“…I get this job.”
“…I get married.”
“…I lose 10 pounds.”
The list goes on. And we all do it. We look so hard at this one thing that will complete our life. We look far ahead and we lose sight of what is in front of us. We lose sight of the fact that what we have right now, this combination of moments, puzzle pieces, maybe angst…those are part of our life too. Those transitions in our life are also chapters in our life. The transitions are poses themselves. What happens if we meet the transitions with as much intention, grace and acceptance as the destination point?
Now, here’s the interesting thing. I happen to find more comfort in the transitions. The periods of uncertainty. The periods of non-commitment, instability. Yep, that’s where I really sleep well. I often wonder if it is because I have not yet found my true spot, or if it’s a straight up fear of commitment. The very thought of knowing where I will be for the next five years sends me into an immediate sweating fit. So, I resist landing in the pose. With every fiber of my being, I fight arriving at a destination point. I have found comfort in the transition…too much comfort. And, as my wonderfully clever friend Betsy explained, I have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat at all times. Think about how exhausting that is. My quads should be rock solid.
So whether we are rushing to the destination or holding too tight to the transition, we are creating anxiety and stress for ourselves. We find ways, most of the time not consciously, to make our lives more difficult. I encourage you to take a look. Is there a place where you are holding on too tight, resisting too much, fighting ease? Is there a place you are rushing to get to, hyper focusing on? There is always room to let go, room to stop fighting ourselves, room to breathe and keep breathing. Let go, even if for a moment, of what you are trying to get to in order to see what you already have.
Stop thinking about where you are not and be completely in love with where you are. Right now.
Look around. Smile at the beauty you have created.
“Happiness is not a state to arrive at,
but a manner of traveling.”
-Margaret Lee Rumback
Katie first discovered yoga in search of a new workout, and a little bit of perspective. What she found was so much more than that, and soon fell in love with yoga. Katie played sports throughout her life, but realized she loved the feeling of calm intensity through movement, sweat and stillness. After a few years of practicing, she finally pursued her dream of becoming a teacher. Katie lives in Denver where she works in marketing and teaches yoga. Although her focus is power yoga, Katie loves exploring all styles of yoga, and feels that a yoga practice is truly the best thing you can do for yourself.