When I think of Transitions and Flow in an asana practice, I think of it moving from A to B, from B to C, and depending on the sequence you go from C to B and back to A etc. In between all the letters there is a whole world, I want to make the transition just as important as A or B by themselves. Just like in meditation to find the space between two breaths is the space between thoughts, find the space between two poses and you are presented with another dimension to your asana practice.
It doesn't matter whether your transition is more advanced physically (think Natarajasana-into -Utthita Hasta in Padangusthasana-into -Utthita Hasta in Padangusthasana B- into -Parivrtta Utthita Hasta in Padangusthasana), or easier physically (think Up cat- into -Extended Child-into -Up Cat-into -Adho Mukha Svanasana). I still use these tricks to transition from pose to pose:
- I visualize the transition in my mind first.
- I wait for my inhale to begin and then the movement, or the exhale to begin and then the movement.
- I physically use my core and energetically my kanda which is located in front of the sacrum (this is from where all the nadis spring from). Transfer tension from shoulders and neck into the lowest abdominals and use it there as strength. I find this super helpful. Also constantly check in with jaw, or forehead tension, and work on letting go in those areas.
- I always connect to the length of the spine to create more space. The more difficult the transition or the faster the flow, there is a tendency to collapse and lose length in the spine.
- I constantly check in with my injuries or weak areas. These are the areas that will give in and collapse first. I modify if I need to. This is a sign of an advanced practice. My lower back is over flexible at times and I need to work hard at supporting it by using my core. Also my right shoulder cuff is giving me issues unless I practice mindfully, and modify immediately when I feel the need for it. Because of this awareness I can now even practice some arm balances.
It's funny, when you bring awareness to your transitions and flow on the mat they directly relate to your life. There are days when you try to control everything in your life and force things to happen, to very little success or pleasure. On the other hand the less I care about being able to do a certain asana or a difficult transition, the more often I actually succeed in it. For me it's a play of moving with your breath and connecting to what is going on with you that day. I check for my reactions, do I get frustrated if I can't do something? If I do, I usually pause in child's pose and rest to catch up with myself. This is I think one of the best tools in yoga class; learn to go into child's pose when everyone else is doing something else, and confidently IGNORE everyone else while you ENJOY your rest. This is major. Very difficult to most. Again, a sign of an advanced practice.
You do not miss out on anything by taking breaks, actually that is you transitioning by listening to your higher Self. There is no finish line. There is an end to the class. But if you think of your life being your yoga class, it is just endless transitions. Flow through them, fluid, stable, grounded, tall and with an open heart.
Hope you can join me for a workshop on this topic at Ishta Yoga Uptown Friday September 19th, 2-3:30pm you can sign up here. Look for the date and the workshop is listed like a class on that day. It is only $25!
My Transtitions and Flow Freestyle below, worked out perfectly with the songs timing by chance.