Last night as I taught yoga to a room jammed full of deliciously dedicated yoginis at Healthworks, a pattern emerged. You know how sometimes your yoga teacher will cue “Inhale your right leg up then step it quietly next to your right hand?” Sometimes I do that, OK, I do that a lot. It’s rhythmic…..it’s soothing to the brain to know the flow. It’s challenging to the brain to mix it up – which I do a lot of that, too. Mechanically, but haltingly, when I stop that cue, some of those legs pop up. Not cleanly. Or smoothly. Class stops. What a teachable moment!
I haven’t done the math but yoga poses take up only a small bit of time in class. So just what goes on in that 75-minute span of time if not yoga poses? Transitions.
Break it down. Everything in red is NOT the pose. Mountain pose. Inhale arms overhead. Exhale, fold forward. Standing forward fold (uttanasana). Inhale, extend heart forward. Half forward fold (ardha uttanasana). Exhale, fold. Uttanasana. Inhale, step your right foot back. High lunge. Inhale, open your left arm to the sky, exhale and release. High lunge. Exhale, step forward and shoot the other leg back. High lunge. Exhale, step back downward facing dog………and so on. See what I mean? Yoga poses are just the exclamation point, the cream drizzling down the strawberry shortcake, the delicately designed froth atop your latte – not the juice.
Mindfulness, smooth and steady thoughts and a quiet heart accompany a grace-filled transition. Those pauses between the poses. Those pauses we learn to grow bigger and hence, more Grace. Asana teaches us how to live off the mat, in our real day-to-day challenging conversations, confrontations, critical moments of comparison. We bind ourselves into contracted postures then breathe and relax – in other words, we find the pause of balance between simple enjoyment of life and embracing suffering. Oh yes, challenging though they be, we adore those beneficially uncomfortable yoga poses, the release of tension and tightness that crept into our shoulders, neck and hips.
Gracefully, with gentle reminders of ‘transition,’ ‘transition,’ transition,’ these yoginis infused the space with quiet fortitude, the pause between the poses growing intensely out of their bodies into the room. As the pacing slowed, the pause expanded, the energy quickened, the vibration buzzed, the frequency heightened. Yes, thank you. Boom! That’s all I know.