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Stillness in motion: the power of the transition.

I can group my yoga students into roughly two groups; the strivers and the surfers. The former is how a lot of people start out, including me. The strivers are the folks who 'do more' and push really hard to attain the feeling of having achieved something in class, and this isn't bad, it's actually totally consistent with modern movement culture and society in general: to push, sweat and strive for more. The surfers, on the other hand, are willing to flow on the wave of their own breath; an imperfect transition and even, god forbid, a wobble and fall, doesn't deter them, because they know the next wave will be better, or even just different.

Yes, the analogy of waves and an ocean is way overused when discussing yoga, but what I am trying to get at is the transition students make from working against what they see as a limitation, onto working with what is. Vinyasa, as a style of yoga, is attractive to busy folk, because of its dynamic nature, it could initially let us stay in our patterns of short, transient bursts of attention and skip past things we don't have the capacity to deal with right now, whether that be a gap in our physical practice abilities or the contemplation of a new world war; both very inconvenient for a gal/guy on the go.

One of the most confronting things about slowing down in a transition between poses is that it might expose a shortcoming or even a short cut you've been taking in your practice. Yoga is a long-game and if we ignore technique and alignment entirely then we risk repetitive injury. I learned the hard way in my own practice but teach in a way so you don't have to.

Moving at lightning speed in your yoga practice and filling any enforced rest periods with fidgets and/or phone-checking is a microcosm of how we are as a society these days; unable to be quiet, still and just with ourselves. Sitting down to meditate is difficult for many, so why not try instead practising moving meditation? When you move in sync with your breath, which with skill will eventually remain at a steady pace (a concept called Sama Vritti), you'll find that you start to enter into a meditative state. What's more, you'll feel less exhausted, less injury prone and far more at home in your body.

So how would you identify right now? Striver or surfer? Maybe you have learned to surf in class but you're still in strive mode in other areas of your life. Of course we want to work hard in our career, on our goals and in the name of things we believe in, but have you considered that, much in the same way that if you don't come up for breath in your yoga practice you might risk an injury, you could also face a similar issue, such as burn-out, in your day-to-day life. Sometimes we actually have to do less to receive more. This also brings me back to the problem of our modern attention spans. When we are constantly trying to achieve more in increasingly shorter increments of time, we can end up overloaded with information and distractions, so much so that what we have to show for it are several half-finished tasks. Sound familiar? For me, this is life-long work. Just as recently as a few weeks ago I had to let go of not one but two projects that were pretty big for me, the reason being that I simply could not offer quality to that quantity of output. Whilst letting go of things is never easy, I credit my yoga practice for how I navigated that transition.

Want an embodied exploration of transitions? Try the latest addition to my on-demand practices, a 45 minute flow exploring mindful and strong transitions.


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