A ROOT Awakening: The Everything In Between
Transitions are an integral and powerful part of our yoga practice and our health on and off the mat. They teach us how to face change, challenges and fears. Transitions between poses and between phases of life are key to building strength and integrity inside and out. It is the space in between where we learn most about who we are and who we want to be. I am in the midst of one of the biggest transitions of my life and it has challenged me to no end. But, I will say that my yoga practice has been a great teacher in demonstrating how I manage transitions physically, mentally and emotionally and has given me the tools to improve.
Often times we fly through our transitions from warrior II to plank pose or from one life chapter to the next using momentum, holding our breath, or without presence. Let’s be real, the transitions are less satisfying for our ego and most of us rarely acknowledge them as vital parts of the practice. We don’t really look or feel good during transitions, so we tend to view them as “throw-away” movements, solely as a means to get to the next pose or phase. When have you seen an Instagram feed full of pictures mid transition? Never. All we tend to see are images of the final destination and much of the journey is left on the editing room floor.
So how do we move through the messy, normal and perfectly unavoidable transitions? Here are three steps to make the most of your next in between moments in yoga and life.
Tap into Awareness: I usually like to start with this one. Many of us move with through transitions using momentum. Whether we are excited, angry or scared about change, it’s common to lunge full speed ahead without a care in the world. Frankly, that just leads to an increased chance of injury to our body or to our personal relationships.
It’s important to consider that the transition is the journey. Connect within and ask yourself, do you know what to shift in order to move safely? Often times, just asking this simple question will help us investigate and discover where we need to direct more energy or release some control. For example, as I began to transition in my business, I realized I needed to bring more awareness and energy to my erratic schedule. I had to look at what was not working and make strategic changes that would offer me more stability and support.
Build Desire: Are you personally motivated to make a successful transition or to flow from one posture to another? If not, challenge yourself and ask why? This is the question that sets me up for step 3.
Most of us are reluctant to move from the comfort of what we know to the discomfort of the unknown. I’ll admit, there are times where I am exhausted by the transition and just want to be done so I lose control and crash into the next pose or phase of life. When that happens, I like to gently remind myself that this is actually where we grow and it’s the transitions that set us up for a successful outcome.
I know that in order to elevate my practice, I have to allow a new version of me to be born. Transitions hold that power and it’s up to us to mold, modify and motivate our growth.
Develop Knowledge and Inner Wisdom: Knowledge and inner wisdom are two very different concepts that work beautifully together and for me it’s important to practice them at the same time.
Knowledge is the information, the direction, the mechanics. For example, knowledge is understanding that in order to move from high plank to low plank (aka: chaturanga) we need to strengthen the core, upper back, shoulders and arms.
Wisdom requires us to be the observer, to tap in to the more subtle parts of us. The wisdom sentence usually starts with “I feel.” Many times, what keeps us from transitioning smoothly is our own resistance to change and fear of “failure” on or off the mat. For example, I have been practicing my transition from down-dog into handstand for years… literally years. Every time I get a chance in class to ask a teacher to spot me, I land it! When I ask for tips, they all end up telling me this- “you’ve got it, you’re strong enough, just practice”. Now the question really becomes; what am I practicing?
I know that there are things mechanically I can improve on, but when I tap into my inner wisdom I find that I have to practice trusting myself. Lately when I have practiced this, I’ve allowed myself to become the observer. I started noticing that every time I was about to move into my handstand, something in me yelled “STOP! You can’t do it!” I believed that thought. I identified with it so much so that it was preventing me from moving forward.
I finally started practicing the transition while recognizing the thought for just that. A thought. And guess what? No, I didn’t land it. I fell and I couldn’t have felt more accomplished. At that moment, I learned that I didn’t have to land the pose to feel the joy. The joy was in the work and this period of transition. I stood up to that belief. That was the success.
Now, once you’ve identified where you need to strengthen (inside, outside, or often times both) and have decided to turn on the burning fire of desire, do you know what to do? Maybe it’s just as simple as needing to practice the biomechanics of moving from warrior I to warrior III balance or perhaps we need to dive deeper and turn to a trusted teacher, mentor, or friend for direction, validation or next steps. I find that being guided by someone I respect and trust in combination with my own practice of listening to my inner wisdom makes me feel more confident and grounded in my journey.
So, are ready to uncover the purpose in your journey?