Transitions

downdog

{Sharing a little more about what the first quarter of this year has been for me.}

I can feel the first bead of sweat gathering between my eyes, sending a prickly sensation throughout my body. It’s like the annoying buzz of a mosquito by your ear – the one that you try to ignore but your hand automatically flicks it away.

I furrow my eyebrows, hoping that will help me regain my focus as I begin to shift forward into Warrior III pose. As soon as I begin to balance on one leg and lift the other behind me to the level of my hips, the sweat begins to flow.

Place your right hand down on the mat and open up into Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose.

I lower my hand to the floor. As I start to stack my hips, one on top of the other, my ankle starts to shake, and I automatically clench my jaw. I desperately try to find one breath of balance while my foot does a quick step dance across the mat before I fall out of the pose.

Slowly lower and step back into Warrior II.

I wipe my hands on my leggings and try again, first balancing in Half Moon pose and then attempting the transition to Warrior II. This time, as I lower my leg, my left foot lands loudly on the ground in a wide stance, not quite the precise alignment that Warrior II calls for. I shimmy my feet on the mat and finally arrive in the pose.

ardha chandrasana

I hate transitions. While others around me in class flow elegantly from pose to pose, I have never been able to move gracefully between yoga postures, mostly because there is no precise roadmap. I am moving through the air, and there are no familiar landmarks to guide me in the right direction or to offer a touch point. Instead, I have to find my own way, and I’m uncomfortable traveling through those these undefined, in-between spaces. I want to shift through the transitions as quickly as possible to get there, to arrive at the next pose. It feels easier to speed through these tricky parts than to linger for even one extra breath.

For most of my life, I’ve been firmly planted on a defined path from Point A to Point B. No blurry edged trails that bleed into the wilderness. This path was like a concrete, four-lane interstate highway. I knew that I just had to keep placing one foot in front of the other, moving ahead at a predictable pace towards the executive suite.

Warrior II

Except after 10+ years, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I turned to my yoga mat during this time to figure out what my heart was telling me and how I could reconnect my mind, body and soul. It’s funny how challenges that arise during my yoga practice often mirror those tests in real life. Time on my mat was my time to work out these issues. What I discovered staring back at me on my mat was entirely unexpected.

I wanted to be a yoga teacher, and I wanted to write. 

And the thing is? There’s no roadmap for this and that scares me. It’s like I’m standing at the beginning of a fog-covered road. I can’t see more than two feet in front of me, and I have to trust that the road will unveil itself as I continue to move forward. I have to believe that I will arrive at my destination. I just might not know what the exact route will look like.

Transitions are hard, uncomfortable and awkward. They are the sticky, messy middle part that we don’t quite know how to navigate or describe. There’s no tried and true pathway because it’s different for everyone.

It’s easy to jump to dreaming about how we want the story to end – happy and successful. We want to bypass the transitions in order to get to a sense of normalcy, comfort and routine. But in doing so, are we robbing ourselves of the journey in-between?

ardha uttanasana

Being thick in the transitions is where the learning comes. They highlight our strengths and weaknesses, whether it’s a weak ankle or a lack of self-confidence to pursue our dreams. Paying attention to the transitions asks us to focus on the journey between the poses rather than solely achieving the perfect pose – sweat-free and in perfect alignment. You have to be fully present and in the moment because you don’t know how the story is going to end.

As a yoga teacher, I struggle with giving my students very direct cues to guide them from one pose to the next and letting them explore the movement on their own. I have realized that it’s more important for my students to come into their own journey on the mat, not necessarily the one that I have mapped out in my mind. My role is to provide cues to guide them on that path, not a scripted roadmap.

It’s a lesson that I know that I need to apply to my practice both on and off the mat.

How do you handle transitions?

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Comments

  1. says

    I don’t do well in yoga transitions either. I’m always stumbling, trying to catch my breath, then realizing I need to breathe, and not hold it in.

    I think your analogy to life transition is a good one. It’s hardly ever just smooth, we just need to get from point A to point B as well as we possibly can.
    Alison recently posted..Through The Lens Thursday #14: SelfMy Profile

  2. says

    I am not a lover of transitions either and this year is a doozie! I’m going through some of the same things with a career path and then boys are starting kindergarten in the fall. It’s a scary time but I’m trying to be open and embrace it. I’m charting a new course – one I’ve created for myself – now I just need the courage to see it though! I love all your gorgeous pictures of your yoga poses. Just beautiful.
    Allie recently posted..10 Reasons Why You NEED This BagMy Profile

  3. says

    Oh I too am so awful with transitions. And jumping off the planned out path into writing and other things – that analogy of the foggy road is so perfect. It is so hard to feel comfortable in an undefined space and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s in those undefined spaces that we really live and grow.
    Tricia recently posted..We worryMy Profile

    • says

      Oh those undefined spaces are so uncomfortable!! I feel like I’m a little kid fumbling through the dark and trying not to freak myself out with the monsters in my head. But I know that we’ll get there and we will live and grow lots.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Good VibesMy Profile

  4. says

    I love this! Definitely something to think about. You showed a lot of courage posting this and sharing your inner thoughts with us. I love it, and I love the analogy that comes with it.

    I struggle with transitions, I am about to step into a big one as I do not know where I will be in 6 months, could be anywhere in America….or could be heading back to England. Being such a planner, that is so hard for me to just trust it will all work out, but I am trying. Everything will work out the way it was always meant to….right?
    Tina Muir recently posted..10 Reasons Running is for YOU!My Profile

  5. says

    I am in the midst of a transition right now. Am I thriving? Not sure as of yet but I am surviving with a furrowed brow and sweat. I’d like to have an even bigger transition happen in my life. That one is scary and I’m afraid to take that leap. But if I don’t, I’ll be miserable and wonder what if? Great perspective as usual Christine!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..#HappyFitMarch Challenge Winners!My Profile

  6. Natasha says

    This is lovely, very thought provoking. I´m currently stuck holding one pose, knowing what pose I want to do next but scared to move through that transition! Wonderful metaphor :)

  7. says

    What a beautiful post Christine. As I’ve gotten older, I tend to view transitions as the calm before the storm, so I try and relax and enjoy, because I know how much work it takes when that certain something actually comes to fruition. My family and I are on the horizon of another very big change, so we are in transition, just as you say. I am just reminding myself to trust, enjoy, and relax. Having faith hasn’t always come natural for me, but I am learning that the less I try to control something the more happy and the better the outcome is.

    • says

      Thank you so much Jody for all your support and everything. It really means a lot to me. It’s scary to follow your dreams and I feel very very fortunate to have a supportive husband and family. Not sure if I would have the courage without them.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Good VibesMy Profile

  8. says

    I can so identify in the journey.

    I am Type A – control/freak who has been living on a plan. Well, after 9 years deep into the plan I realize that it was not what I wanted. The pain of knowing that what I want wasn’t fully fleshed out was scary but I knew I needed to go for it. There is a lot of uncertainty, no real road maps or how to’s yet there is something to be said about this process. It’s really taking our practice off the mat into the real world.

    Congratulations on this big transition step… more will continue to reveal in the journey.
    Laura Yamin recently posted..Meet Emily Levenson – Thriving EntrepreneurMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you Laura. Yes – it IS taking our practice off the mat and into the real world. I’m trying to remember all that I’ve worked through in my practice as I work through these murky areas in life. While it’s hard for sure, I’m really excited about the possibilities.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Good VibesMy Profile

  9. says

    Transitions are SO hard! I’m in one now too, and I often find myself wishing away the journey. But you’re right – there are a lot of moments and changes in the journey that we would miss out on.

  10. says

    I adore the writing in this post, friend. And the comparison to life transitions and yoga transitions. beautifully written and compared. transitions are HARD for me too because they scream: CHANGE and change is hard for me, even when it is change that I want. The journey towards change and transition is beautiful though, and worth paying attention to, every step of the way. thanks for the reminder, xoxoxo
    Jolene recently posted..On life and musings in bullets.My Profile

  11. says

    I adore the transitions. I enjoy the change around me and the wondering where exactly it will lead. I don’t do well in one place and want to keep moving and changing in some fashion. I’m kind of the same in yoga, I don’t like to stay in a pose long, even one I’m good at.

    Enjoy the journey to your new dreams.
    MCM Mama recently posted..1st quarter in the rearview mirrorMy Profile

  12. says

    Beautiful post! I think most of us struggle with transitions. I know I do in yoga – and I do in life as well. I’m really good at dreaming about the desired outcome, but it can be messy in the middle. I’m working on this as well. Sounds like you have had a great first quarter though – so be kind to yourself on your journey. ;)
    Kerry recently posted..A Chance to Help a Bereaved MotherMy Profile

  13. says

    I feel like I can absolutely relate to this. I’ve always been one to need exact direction; as a pianist, I was never able to improvise, I always wanted to play exactly what was on the paper. I’m also going through a transitional period in my life right now and part of that is getting a personal training certification. It’s tough doing it on my own because I don’t have that push of the exact direction to go, but I’m learning. And reading this is definitely helpful knowing I’m not alone.
    Brittany @ Barr & Table recently posted..What I Ate Wednesday #80: How BizarreMy Profile

  14. says

    Well, I feel like the past 7 months have been a huge transition here while I try to learn about owning and running a business. I have not handled the transition very well at all – there is absolutely no grace or smoothness involved. Mostly it is just trying not to fall over most of the time in my world!
    I think you have made a lot of positive steps into your new ventures – your publications, your teacher training….
    Kim recently posted..A Fun Way to Honor a LegendMy Profile

  15. says

    Yes. Sometimes I think the biggest problem is that I can’t even articulate why any transition is difficult and it’s hard to ask for help or advice when you don’t really know what you need help or advice with. I also feel like those in-between stages are so tough because you’re not learning from them in the moment, it’s only when you can look back with hindsight and say, ‘Oh, I could have tried this,’ or ‘I’m glad I did it that way,’ that you do all the learning. Wonderful post!
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted..Fit Mama Friday – Meet TaraMy Profile

  16. says

    I am beginning to learn that life is mostly made up of transitions. The messy stuff that can’t be controlled or bent to our will. It is a realization I pretty much just had yesterday and reading this post solidified my thoughts. Well written Christine…as always.
    Tara Newman recently posted..Kings Park 15K Race ReportMy Profile

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