When I was little, we moved around a lot. My dad was a Navy man and bouncing around the globe was part of the deal. Between the ages of birth and 12 we moved every year or two, once we lived in the same place for 3 years in a row. Moving brings about change, whether you want it or not. Each move included a new house, new school, new friends and new surroundings.
I don’t like change, it took me a while to figure this out. It’s partly due to all of those moves as a kid, but could also be attributed to my kapha tendencies. I like it when things are humming along, you know what to expect and you are comfortable in the routine of things. So, when times of change come about I am resistant, reluctant and sometimes downright unpleasant.
My yoga practice has helped me to understand my natural inclinations. Through my practice and the practice of being present I’m more conscious of my knee-jerk reaction to change. A question I ask myself regularly on and off the mat is, “do I dislike this because it’s new or is my dislike merited?” This little question of intention or validity check has helped me to open up to the possibility of change.
Now that I’m more aware, I’ve begun to appreciate the beauty in the in-between or transitions. There’s a lovely, much needed lull in between sports seasons for the kids, there’s wonderful energy and excitement when they transition from school to summer break, there’s the joy of finding money in the pocket of your favorite pair of shorts after a long winter and there’s lots of time to connect with the ones you love while shuttling between activities. Whether you are transitioning from season to season, age to age, or between roles, there’s a lot of juicy stuff in the middle that I’ve overlooked in the past.
From the perspective of the physical yoga practice, there’s plenty of good stuff in between too. Bringing mindfulness as we transition in and out of poses, through a familiar connecting vinyasa or a common sequence, we can create a more challenging practice, both physically and mentally. Here are just a few areas where I’ve brought focus recently. You can too, just be mindful of where you are checking out or blasting through and I’m sure you’ll find some of that juicy stuff in between.
- Sun Salutation: arriving completely into bhujangasana (cobra) or urhdva mukha svanasana (up dog) with shoulders dripping down the back, before lifting through to adho mukha svanasana (down dog).
- Warrior Dance: keeping the deep knee bend while transitioning between virabhadrasana II (warrior II) to parsvokonasana (side angle) and back again.
- Down Dog Step-Through: from adho mukha svanasana (down dog) engage uddiyana bandha as you draw the knee tight to the chest, lifting high enough to set the foot down with control and a heel-toe rolling action. Finish by spreading the toes and gently gripping the mat.
Recently, I asked the question of my class, “how to you respond to change?” I was pleased to find out I’m not alone. It was also fun to hear the answers of the more adventurous yogis who almost always relish in something new. I think I’m starting to understand their point of view.
Enjoy the Journey! Suzanne
(This blog was originally posted on yoginiinprogress.blogspot.com.)