The Practice of Transitioning Mindfully

“Life is one big transition.” -Willie Stargell

Week 4 of Yoga Teacher Training

I’m at the halfway point of this journey, and it’s an interesting place to be. Like any unknown process, you can never tell from the outside what it will look like from the inside. Where I came from is no longer in sight and where I’m going is a speck on the horizon.

It’s a free place to be. There is nothing to hold onto here except this moment.moon-in-phases

Transformation

We are playing a lot with sequencing lately. Sequencing of a class and starting to put together everything we’re learning. It is where form and movement meet, and it is much like watching a flower open. Slowly but surely and with grace and beauty.

Within the aspect of sequencing, we are spending a lot of time discussing and practicing transitions.

Transitions. The moments between the poses. The times we often disengage and disconnect because the pose is “over.”

Transitions are interesting because they often require more attention, balance, and presence than the poses themselves.

To transition is to “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another.”

It is to transform.

It requires movement, a destination, and a way to get there. In life or in yoga, mindfully transitioning takes patience and focus.

In the restorative class I attend the teacher instructs us to “relax fully in the transitions.” I find this reminder so helpful because usually in a transition we are anticipating what comes next instead of inhabiting where we are. Our minds are already guessing, Where are we going?

It has become my practice to stay simultaneously engaged, relaxed, and present in my transitions, be they simple or complicated, be they yoga transitions or life transitions.

This will be a lifelong practice.

Looking in the Mirror

Expressing how a teacher had showed him a different way to get into a pose that made it much more accessible for him, a student in our class commented, “It was right in front of me all the time.”

We have all experienced this moment of clarity. Someone points out a strength or a perspective or a stability we didn’t see. They haven’t given us anything necessarily. They’ve just shown us what we already have.

This is one of the many gifts yoga teachers (and teachers of any kind) give their students. Showing them what is within their reach, what they are capable of, and allowing them the experience of being in their body as never before.

While helping a student into a deep backbend, our teacher commented, “She can do that. She just isn’t that familiar with it yet.”

And so it is for all of us. The expansive world of what isn’t familiar yet. Our untapped potential, our unknown strength, our unimagined lives.

When teachers see their students, it’s like they’re holding up a mirror. The student can look into the reflection and see, sometimes for the first time in their lives, a true reflection of themselves.

This clarity is what keeps us coming back to our mats week after week, year after year. At least it’s what keeps me coming back.

The opportunity to unveil who I think I am so that I can see, if only for a moment, who I really am.

*****

This is the fourth part in a series.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

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photo by: Spirit-Fire

About Monique Minahan

Monique Minahan is a writer and yoga teacher offering her heart to the world through words that motivate, inspire, and encourage. Connect with her at mindfulmo.com.