Transition is the space between poses, a journey towards self-discovery, and the transitions we take in the practice reflect the patterns in which we change and grow in our daily lives. Is there a lingering, a stagnant point at which the ego refuses to let go of the past? Does the body feel tight, closed up, and unwilling to change? Yoga gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves in a microcosm through the asana practice, and how our minds and bodies react when presented with change. Often, the way we move from posture to posture in our practice reveals much about the way we deal with change in our lives. The following is a beginner’s yoga sequence that will strengthen the muscles of the back, shoulders, legs, and arms, while expanding the chest and heart. You will eventually land in Virabhadrasana III, (Warrior III pose) a posture that challenges balance, and requires great concentration. Move through this next sequence slowly and with care, honoring your body and your choice to arrive on your mat today.
Learning to fly is only as hard as letting go of the ground.
- Downward facing dog
- Right leg lifts, toes point towards the floor, heel reaches back
- Right knee bends, open right hip and let the right ankle make several circles in both directions
- Square off hips, rise onto ball of the left toe and step right foot forward in between the hands; right knee should be directly above right ankle
- Rise onto fingertips in a low lunge posture, letting the collarbones lift and the heart expand
- Raise arms on an inhale for high lunge
- Contract the inner core muscles by knitting the navel to the spine, and tucking the tailbone toward the navel
- Interlace fingers, and turn palms up to the sky, lengthening the side body
- Exhale hands to heart
- Begin to shift weight into the right foot, grounding through all four corners of the feet
- The left leg begins to slowly lift off the mat, toes pointed down and heel reaching back, as in three legged dog
- Right leg begins to straighten, and the head of the thighbone presses back, centering the femur in the hip joint
- Arrive in your Warrior III pose. The hip points should be even, and parallel with the floor. Arms may reach outwards from the heart, as head, shoulders, and hips remain in one line
- Hold pose for five breaths
- Bending the right knee, lower hands and left leg down arriving in a forward fold
- Let the spine spill forth from the pelvis like water pouring out of a cup, taking several deep breaths
- Repeat on opposite side
Finding balance requires a juxtaposition of the mind and body, which allows us to experience the space between the inhale and the exhale. By focusing all attention on one specific point (the standing leg, in Warrior III), we quiet the mind, and exist only in the present. This rooting down and simultaneous growth up and out allows the breath to reach the outer most points of ourselves, creating an openness towards transition and change. Arriving in a difficult posture is only as useful as the breath in the posture is constant. Master the breath, and you have mastered your life.