I sat cross-legged on my mat in the exercise room surrounded by glass, feeling as conspicuous as a single fish in an otherwise empty fishbowl. Other cross-legged classmates filled the room, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that other gym-goers eyes followed me as I sat deep-breathing into my ribs. It wasn’t until I closed my eyes and focused on the yoga instructor’s voice that the rest of the world melted away, if only for a little while.
The instructor spoke about crossing thresholds, how we must pay the closest attention when we transition from one place to another. Transitions between the poses are the most difficult and most challenging part of the yoga practice. So often, we believe holding the pose–staying in one place for a long period of time–is the hard part. But, injury usually occurs when crossing over from one movement to another.
This may sound a little woo-woo if you’re not into contorting your body into gravity-defying positions, but I think there are some valid off-mat lessons yoga practice can teach us.
Three things to remember when experiencing transition
Focus on what you’re leaving behind, but also where you’re going. We lose focus when we become more interested in how the person next to us is managing to move with such grace, than on how we handle our own transitioning.
I fumble my way through much of life–graceless and messy. But I don’t want comparison to rob me of the joy of accomplishment. Moving forward, from one place in life to another, graceful or not, is worth our focus and attention. Once accomplished, it’s worth celebrating.
Pay attention. Pay attention to the signals your body, mind, and spirit send you. Pay attention to the pain. Attend to the discomfort. Listen to your own needs and treat them with care as you move forward into something new or different or exciting.
Be mindful of what is happening in your own space and how you experience change in your soul. Give yourself room to breathe.
Transition is a normal part of life. We move in and out of seasons like every other created being in nature. Some change occurs overnight, but most often, our souls forget to stay in tune with the subtle changes leading us into the next season. Moving slowly helps us avoid injury.
Will we always get it right? Will we always make the best and wisest decisions? No, but we can minimize the impact if we don’t rush in full-speed ahead with little thought for our emotional or physical safety.
If you find yourself in a place of transition today, know that it’s a messy process. It’s never going to look pretty without countless errors and many years of practice, but the resulting strength of character and flexibility of spirit make every bit of the aching worth it.