Transition with Grounded and Renewed Energy
This month’s Pose of the Month is a three-for-one deal! As we all begin to look ahead to the new year, we’re thinking about transitioning and how we can move through changes, whether it’s the beginning of a new year or otherwise, with grace, comfort and ease. It’s always important to pay attention to your energy levels and take steps for renewal in a way that works for you. If you’re not sure where to start, our Pose of the Month dream team Kathy, Mary Pat, and Julie have you covered! This month they each offer a practice and some wisdom to help you transition with a grounded and renewed energy.
Kathy offers her favorite way to find grounding in what can be a hectic time of year and when change is in the air. She writes, “Believe it or not, one of my favorite grounding poses is Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). This pose is a beautiful full stretch of the whole body while at the same time, the careful placement of the hands with the palms spread open, the lifting of the hips and the anchoring of the legs hitting back and the heels extending back and downward is very grounding.” This pose can be practiced as in a number of ways including traditional variation as described by Kathy, by starting on your hands and knees on the floor then straightening your arms as you raise your hips up towards the sky. You can also practice this pose by placing your palms against the wall, on the back of a chair, or on a table/desk/bench (pictured here).
Once you feel grounded and present from Downward Facing Dog, try out Mary Pat’s reclining twist. Here she explains how to get into the posture and some options to create an opening and relaxing experience. She says, “Lie down face up near a stable piece of furniture. Allow yourself to settle, sigh, and soak in experiences from the past year. Land and notice how you feel in this moment, taking several relaxed breaths. Bring left knee into chest, drape leg across body with opposite arm. Support the leg with bolster/blankets. To your comfort and ability, extend through both legs. Ground shoulders and extend through both arms. Use the leverage from your left hand pressing against the furniture to further extend through the arm and the entire side body. With the support and stability of the floor, explore making more space in the body by alternating through extension and relaxation. Stay awhile. Grounding acknowledges the past year, while the open twist signals one is prepared to meet the coming year. Option – place right hand on top of left leg to enhance the twist. Repeat on the other side.” If a partner is available, have the partner use one of their legs in lieu of the stable furniture to provide leverage. The partner may also provide grounding and reference to the shoulder and hip/thigh, as seen in the photo here.
As you’re moving between these two poses, your regular yoga practice, and/or into your life, here is some wisdom about transitions offered by Julie Riff who writes, “As we yogis welcome the new year, we may both lament and celebrate that change is inevitable; from one moment, one breath, one pose to the next. It follows that transitions are also inevitable. What we want to change is one thing, how we go about it is another. We tend to ignore transitions, focusing instead on the goal, both on and off the mat. We are a goal-oriented people with busy minds and busy lives. We either rush through transitions or tune them out completely. How many times have we heard that old saw about enjoying the journey as much as the destination? Well, yogis here it is again. When we rush through transitions, we fool ourselves into thinking that once we arrive somewhere—whether it’s a pose, a class, or a life stage—we will pay attention and become present. Transitions can be boring and, at time difficult. Moving consciously and slowly through transitions is more demanding, mentally and physically. But if we don’t pay attention during transitions, we may find ourselves on the floor, both literally and metaphorically. And we miss the opportunity to build the capacity to cultivate grace during those inevitable changes. With attention to transitions, we learn to respond rather than react. We learn to bring the focus back to the journey instead of the destination. And really, each moment in life is equally important, regardless of what the ego may try to dictate. When we consciously slow down, the whole world around us comes into vivid focus. Practice staying present during transitions and change becomes more elegant and illuminating. In 2019, let us yogi embrace graceful transitions and the joy and wonder of the journey.”
Big thanks to Kathy, Mary Pat, and Julie for providing these wonderful practices to take us through the holidays and into the new year!