In life and in yoga, I’ve often thought the way I handle myself in transition is just as important—if not, maybe, more important—than how I behave once I’m settled.
I have noticed of late that my teachers at my new Bikram Boston studio don’t emphasize the importance of transitions in and out of poses, and this bothers me. My teachers in Washington, DC harped relentlessly about how we shouldn’t “fall in” and “flop out” of postures. They reminded us to move smoothly and slowly rather than quickly and sloppily.
“The way you go in and out of a pose is as critical as the pose itself,” one of my teachers used to say.
I can’t help but notice that my yogis in my new studio don’t seem to follow this creed. I am almost always the very last person up out of standing separate forehead to knee. By the time I’m up, half the class has already turned and is facing the mirrors, ready for the next pose. The same goes for half-tortoise, a pose I absolutely love to savor and move in and out of oh so slowly. The stretch! The ab workout! The expansion across my shoulder blades and down my back! When I slowly rise up out of half-tortoise, I see that the majority of people are already down in savasana.
I shake my head. I want to tell them, “Wait. Slow down. You’re missing it!”
Although I have adapted to the different dialogue here in Boston, and the carpet, and the fact that we stay facing the mirrors in triangle, I haven’t adjusted to the harried transitions. I go through class almost always one or two beats behind everyone else.
But, in life, I am a slow transitioner, too, and I’m starting to become okay with that. I used to hate that any slight change jarred me, that I could never move on from heartaches and hurts quickly or easily, that I couldn’t make my way gracefully into a new phase of life. I stumbled through doorways. Sometimes, I collapsed upon arrival. Or, sometimes, I just ran, leaving rubble in my wake.
Learning to move inch my inch, vertebrae by vertebrae, in and out of my yoga poses has helped me learn how to move at my own natural pace elsewhere.
After all, what’s the rush?
These days, I think the most delicious and satisfying moments—in my practice and my life—are those in which I relaxed, rose slowly, and reminded myself to find grace in the transition.