Posted by: eveyoga | August 3, 2011

Transitions

I’m generally intrigued by the notion of transitions.

As I apply the word transition to yoga, I mean the part of a pose when one is going into or coming out of it. It can represent a sort of blind spot in one’s awareness, if the transition is not acknowledged.

Take a simple pose like Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). You can go into the pose from Tadasana, stepping out wide (or even, as sometimes taught, jumping out) deliberately and carefully. Or, you can just get on your mat and shuffle into the pose, and not really pay any attention to the posture until you’re in it. It’s as though you didn’t really show up for the start and the completion of the pose.

The trick is to treat entering and leaving a pose as integral to it so there’s a clear beginning, middle and end. And then, you are present to being in the pose, as well as the transitions.

It’s a little harder to maintain this awareness in poses that require you to balance on one leg, like Vrshkasana (Tree Pose). It takes great presence of mind, and you could say grace, to move in, stay in, and move out of the pose, all the while maintaining balance.

In Sirsasana (Headstand), the approach to going up requires strong abdominals and shoulders, as well as good hip flexion. If any of those parts are missing in action, the approach to headstand will be jerky and possibly injurious. Better to work on the lead-up to the full inversion before planning to stay for any length of time in the pose.

Sirsasana

I wonder if we practice including the transitions of our yoga poses, whether that awareness might spill over into the rest of our lives – enabling us to make smoother, more thoughtful segues. For a woman, this might mean noticing the daily/weekly changes in her body/mind as she moves through her menstrual cycle and being accepting of them. A male friend of mine who was moving through his seventies was acutely aware of muscular changes in his body that caused him gradual loss of strength. He seemed to make peace with the transition and even have a sense of curiosity about it.

For women giving birth, the stages can be fast and furious or long and laborious, but the transition phase is very intense and demands attention.

Perhaps the ultimate transition we will ever face is the one from life to death. A wise friend recently sat with his father through this process. I picture that what he did was mid-wiving his dad through possibly one of the most frightening transitions we humans will ever face. How wonderful to have loved ones close by to complete one’s journey.

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