Life is full of transitions. Some are major, like starting school, getting married or retiring from a lifelong career. Others are different, more private and not marked by a certain day or event, but known to you as significant and life changing. They may be things like transitioning from unhealthy eating (donuts, anyone?) to eating healthy, nutritious foods (fresh fruits and vegetables perhaps) or transitioning your inner life such that you feel worthy of dating the type of person you deserve (you are, you know).
Big or small, transitions can be daunting and exciting all at the same time. Some people hurl themselves toward the new and different aspects of their lives, some approach them with more trepidation and still others avoid them altogether until they are forced to confront them, laid off from a job or thrust out of the nest of college life. Then there are those who seem to move effortlessly through life transitions, keeping a calm and steady presence in their lives, keeping up with their responsibilities and even maintaining a cheerful attitude.
Yoga offers an opportunity to practice smooth and mindful transitions. In the midst of change, returning to your yoga mat can feel very grounding. Transitions between poses are just as much a part of yoga as the postures themselves. Staying mindful and grounded between poses helps you to feel mindful and grounded during transitions in life. If you can’t make it to yoga class and are feeling especially short of time, take five minutes to practice this slight variation of Warrior I pose (in Sanskrit, Virabhadrasana I):
From a standing position, take a giant step back with one leg to create a long stance, then step your feet hip-width distance apart. Point your front toes straight ahead and angle your back toes so they are at about 45 degrees from the wall in front of you. Use your hands to help steer your hips so both hips are pointing straight ahead and bend your front knee directly over your front ankle. Rest your hands together at your heart center and focus your gaze (in Sanskit, dristi) on a point directly in front of you.
Now, press both feet strongly into the floor, imagine that you have roots, like a tree, that are grounding you to the earth. If your back heel is lifting off the floor slightly, press through your back heel and the outer edge of your back foot. Relax your shoulders and release any tension in your face. Take five deep breaths. Listen to each inhale and each exhale. Feel yourself rooting to the earth and becoming more grounded with each breath. To transition out of the pose, slightly shift your weight into your front leg and step the back foot to meet the front foot. Take a few deep breaths. Then, mindfully repeat on the other side. Give yourself a moment to notice how you feel afterwards.