Transitioning with grace and ease.

Hello, Fall, old friend! I love you. I see glimpses of orange and red on neighborhood trees. The littles in my life are planning their Halloween costumes. Everywhere I look, it’s punkins galore! (Yes. I said “punkin.” That’s not a typo.)

As much as I love this season, it comes with challenges. My schedule, the weather, and amount of daylight are changing. I feel transition at every level – body, mind, spirit – I get tired more easily as daylight goes away, I have trouble keeping track of my calendar commitments. If I’m not mindful, I very easily move into “ugh, winter is coming” mode. I’ve fallen into that thinking in the past but, this year, my yoga practice is guiding me into a new approach. Instead of focusing on what’s next, I’ve decided to start a seasonal transition practice as a time to explore, to learn, to embrace.

Here are some of the things I’m practicing to help me transition into Fall with a new sense of grace and ease. Perhaps you’d like to add one or more of these things to your own practice:

  1. Daily meditation focused on letting go of expectation and learning to take things as they come. If you are not comfortable with the word “meditation,” you might be more comfortable thinking of this as spending a few moments in silence every day. You can squeeze in 10 minutes just for you, right?
  2. Noticing one thing each day that’s Fall-related and smile worthy! I saw the most beautiful leaf on the sidewalk yesterday. It was red, with a yellow sunburst radiating from the center. When I’m mindful, I see these types of things. When I’m rushed and focused on where I’m going, instead of where I am, I miss out. I step on leaves, crushing the beauty before I give myself a chance to enjoy it.
  3. Mindfulness during asana transitions. If you’ve been to any of my classes in the past week, you’ve experienced me guiding you more intentionally from pose to pose. We’ve slowed down our flow so we can feel each step of the transition. For some of us, this is really hard. We want to get where we’re going so we can achieve the posture, damn it. But, see, just like in life, we miss out on so much. I’m thinking, in particular, about one of this past week’s transitions from Figure Four (Eka Pada Utkatasana) to Airplane (Eka Pada Dekasana). The transition between poses requires focus and strength and a sense of letting go. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness and transitioning with grace which, I acknowledge, can be more challenging than the poses themselves. Last week, a frustrated student stopped mid flow and said to me, “This is ridiculous.” After a good laugh, a few deep breaths, finding a focal point (drishti) and a commitment to the transition, she was able to let go and accept the transition with grace. “This is ridiculous.” turned into “That felt good!”

There’s a lesson, huh? Consider approaching this Fall with a new yoga practice (with our without asana) to help you move away from the difficulties of transition into “This feels good!” Use one of the ideas above, or create your own.

The Mat Is Magic

The Mat is magic.

The Mat is magic.
Climb aboard with me.

Come on. Don’t be afraid.
This time is ours.
There’s no judgment.
There’s nothing to prove.

What? Impossible, you say?

Take my hand.
Explore. Feel. Trust.

The Mat is magic.

We take our places and begin to breathe.
Inhale. Exhale.
The Mat flutters.
Inhale. Exhale.
The Mat rises. Slowly at first and then with heroic rhythm.

We’re warriors, soaring to the land of eight-limbed trees.
Where children hug their rag dolls and stand with intention and love.

The Mat lifts us halfway up the mountain, and then gently folds us down again.
We flow from high to low and then up and down into sacred stillness.

The Mat is magic.

We’ve entered a jungle.
We sit in our chairs, upright at first and then we turn to pray.
Beauty unfurls.
Stealth cobras raise their heads to watch majestic eagles and crows circling overhead.
Gorillas swing from the trees.
Pigeons rest peacefully on the backs of camels.
We are curious. We observe. We learn.

We notice the dancers, their bodies rooted down and reaching up.
Creating the eternal trinity of body, mind and spirit.

The Mat is magic.

This leg of our journey is almost over. The Mat begins its peaceful descent.
And so we relax. Like blissful babies, gently rocking from side to side.
Knowing we can come back here at any time.
Each journey will be sacred and new.

We allow ourselves to lie in stillness until we are ready to begin the next leg of our journey.

Without the Mat.

Taking the magic with us.