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Whether it’s as simple as mixing up daily routine — or as complicated as a change in job, a breakup, a birth or a death — transitions can be incredibly uncomfortable. Change is life’s only constant; to pretend otherwise would be an exercise in futility. And as much as positive change is so good — we all want a breath of fresh air, right? — we’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves going through a transition. They are simply not fun. Transitions are the liminal space between the before and the after; that wobbly place where you’re not quite where you were, and you’re definitely not where you want to be. And if we’re not careful, transitions can bring up a lot of fear.
But here’s the thing about that in-between place: it usually occurs during times when we don’t know the next step, we don’t have the answers, and we don’t have a lot of control. Because it’s so uncomfortable, we either find ourselves hanging on to the past, or pre-occupied with what’s going to happen next. We go to great lengths to avoid discomfort with a variety of coping mechanisms — three or four post-work wines at happy hour to avoid at-home responsibility, scrolling mindlessly through Instagram while in line at the coffee shop, or simply rushing from one commitment to another, lost in reverie or future-tripping.
This is why yoga is such a great metaphor for life. After all, what is yoga but a series of poses we move through followed by a great rest? But here’s the thing: by leaning on momentum and rushing through yoga transitions, we ignore our bodies, missing the beauty of every muscle coming into laser-focus. We miss the beautiful synchronicity of body and mind working together in harmony.
The key to making yoga transitions between poses easy? Slow, thoughtful movement. By moving mindfully, and paying attention to the space in between poses, we witness alignment, the creation of strength in real-time, and give ourselves the gift of tuning into our inner body language. This is how we prevent injury — and more importantly, this is how we learn to stay present.
Yoga is about the practice as a whole — how one moves from pose to pose with grace. Yeah, Natarajasana looks beautiful, but the beauty is in getting there: balancing from the midline, squeezing your knee to the center, reaching forward to the horizon, and kicking back at the same time. It’s about the journey, not the destination. The journey takes work; but we can’t get anywhere without it.