Transitions. Painful, confusing, worrisome, stress-causing transitions. Change is a natural part of life, no matter how much we wish it wasn’t, and unfortunately, it’s a major component of yoga as well. Moving seamlessly from one asana into another is the basis of a meaningful and mindful yoga practice, and can’t be mastered in a week. So naturally, I attempted to master it in four days.
Yoga wouldn’t be yoga if it weren’t for transitions, transitions from standing positions to seated positions, seated positions into inversions, and inversions into collapsing on the floor, panting (which really isn’t a standard kind of transition, but one that I often find myself doing). Yoga can’t be done by going directly from standing straight up to suddenly jerking into Downward Dog; doing yoga in this manner would completely negate any benefits a person receives from combining breath with practice, and would most likely result in some pulled muscles. Moving from standing position into Downward Dog requires a series of controlled movements known as the vinyasa flow, a.k.a. the bane of my existence.
In the vinyasa flow, a person moves from Tadasansa (mountain pose) into a forward fold, slides their hands up to their knees to come to straight back position, slides their hands down their legs and plants their palms on the floor to transition into plank (gag), lowers into Chatarunga (which is the bottom of a push-up– double gag), brings their torso up to come into Upward Dog, and, finally, tucks their toes under to reach Downward Dog position. So yeah, super simple stuff.
A nice little circular diagram that sums up everything I was trying to say. It’s true, a picture is worth a thousand (or, in this case, roughly 75) words. (Photo by Yoga Integrated Sciences)
Now, you might be sitting there at your computer, scoffing, thinking, “Wow, that looks super easy, relaxing even. What a big whiner this chick is!” And I mean, I am a big whiner, but imagine doing this vinyasa flow every single time you go into Downward Dog. Every. Single. Time. And if you’re wondering, I go into Downward Dog roughly 3,867 times a yoga session (not by my own choice– if I had my own way, my yoga sessions would consist of 30 minutes of Shavasana, or corpse pose. Basically, this asana involves laying on one’s back with their eyes closed, not moving a muscle). The worst part of the vinyasa is, Downward Dog isn’t even the end of it! Most yoga routines involve going into even more complex positions after Downward Dog, such as Warrior I, Warrior II, and the dreaded Twisting Warrior.
The yoga position I wish to be doing (top, Shavasana) vs. the yoga position I have to do (bottom, Twisting Warrior). (Photos by PopSugar and Forest Yoga, respectively)
I bet as you’re reading this, the question arises in your mind: “Why does she keep saying she HAS to do this? No one HAS to do anything but what they want to do.” Well, first off, I HAVE to do this because I chose it for my independent learning project, and I’m always vying to get a good grade in any class I participate in by completing my work fully and to the best of my ability. Still, I could do two hours of Shavasana a week and have that count as completing the requirements for the project.
The reason I HAVE to do tiring and painful transitions in my yoga practice is that yoga is indicative of life, and, to succeed at life, I can’t just choose to lie on the floor and avoid all changes. If I want to grow in my yoga practice, or in life, I have to work on mastering tough transitions, and looking at them as a blessing rather than torture. As I mentioned in an earlier blog posting, transferring to Chadron State was a stressful and rough transition for me, but I had to do it in order to become the person that I want to be (as in, an awesome and sassy teacher). So, while transitions are one of my least favorite aspects of yoga, I recognize their importance, and hope to grow better at them every time I step on the mat. And just because I didn’t master the art of transitions in four days, doesn’t mean that I never will.
Namaste, and may all your transitions be blessed.
PS: Instead of recounting all of the videos I did this week (because it’s annoying and takes a while), I’ll just link you to Yoga with Adrienne’s YouTube channel and let you peruse them at your own leisure, if you wish. This week I did Days 6-9 of Adrienne’s 30 day challenge, and let me tell you, they were pretty killer!