Turn and Face the Strange Ch-ch-changes

The last time you moved from pose to pose, while performing Sun Salutation A, for example, did you truly experience the transition in between poses, or did you just go through the motions of completing the sequence?

Transitions are a pivotal and yet often overlooked piece of the yoga practice. The spaces in between poses are where we build strength, create smooth efficiency of movement and focus the mind on the present moment.

Think of stepping from a lunge into a forward fold. The thigh muscles of the bent leg engage as it prepares to support your weight. The back leg folds and floats in toward your chest as one foot lands gracefully next to the other. When this movement is done with focus and awareness, you create strength in your muscles and joints. You are in the present moment – the space in time where you are coming from and moving to.

As you practice over time, your transitions become more efficient. They’re quieter. You lose the fidgetiness. Those stronger and more limber muscles create a smoothness, ease of movement. When we watch graceful athletes of any species jump and run, we see this ease. Think of Kobe going up for a layup or a masterful mutt going for a frisbee.

There comes a time in your practice when you need to push for this ease of transitioning. If you’re feeling good in the poses, this is the time. Let go of the constant adjusting and allow yourself to feel the positions and the movements in between them. Rid yourself of the need to get the result just right. Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind, according to the Yoga Sutras. On the level of asana, yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the body.

Focusing on transitions can change your practice. These physical transitions are an analogy for the transitions in your life as you look to handle them with focus, ease and an understanding that they build strength. Try it on for size. You might find an ease to your yoga that calms your mind even more than it does today and prepares you for all the ch-ch-changes.