Grace in the Transitions

Transitions are awkward.

We've all been there. It's halfway through class, and the balancing postures are just starting to ramp up. The instructor calls eagle. Then he asks you to fly out, but keep your leg lifted. In your mind, you start to panic just a little bit.


"Oh crap. I'm already wobbly--where are we going next? I hope its not Vira III, my hips and quads are so sore! Maybe we'll just step back to crescent lunge and I can get grounded again". Instead of stepping back, you extend forward to airplane, then full Virabhidrasana III. You start to get stable just as you hear the cue to roll open into half moon. Your ankle is wobbling as you try to open your heart and find stillness and strength in this pose. The class is then told to stand back up keeping the same leg lifted, then invited to grab the toes with the peace fingers and set up for Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (extended hand-to-big-toe pose). At this point, you're aching. Your abs are deeply on fire, and your whole leg is wobbly and sore. You start to move forward and stand upright, but your body just won't, and you fall out. Or maybe you just want to get into the next pose, so you decide to step out, then reset so you can really get the pose down without wobbling or falling. Either way, your focus is on the next pose, rather than the act of transitioning to it. In yoga class, we often get wrapped up in the mechanics of the postures themselves. We work on coming into deeper expressions of them, finding stability, length, extension, or ease in them--and that is great! It's work that never ends, and is continually rewarding. However, hyper-focus on asana work can make us forget that the beauty of vinyasa yoga is not in the poses themselves--rather, it's in the flow. How easily and gracefully can you move between the poses? Can you be comfortable with not knowing where you are going next? These are the questions vinyasa invites us to explore. Periods of transition always carry with them a fear of the unknown. We may be faced with more significant challenges--even greater than what we just faced-- or perhaps another opportunity to practice cultivating balance, strength, and stability. We may get to a place where we can ground down, and feel supported and empowered. We may even get to take a much needed rest, and totally reconnect to our center.  But we don't know. We can't tell the future, and maneuvering through that uncertainty can be scary and unnerving. At the very least, its unsettling. As humans, we like to be in stages. We like to have clear boundaries and delineations. We don't like to be in flux, but the beauty of this life we've been given is that it is always in flux! Vinyasa teaches us to flow gracefully--to get comfortable with transitioning. By constantly moving through and adapting to new poses, we learn that no moment lasts forever, and that we must always be ready to flow gently into the next stage. We learn to appreciate the concentration and resolve that it takes to value those transitional periods that can feel so intimidating. We take the awkwardness out of the in-between moments, and cultivate trust that we are moving toward exactly what we need next in our practice and our lives. xoxo Sloane Pitman You can follow more of my musings at:

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