I go to Colorado about once per year to visit very close family in the mountains. It’s beautiful, serene, and I am surrounded by unending love and support. I look forward to going and I love being there.
Upon my return from Colorado, I always feel like the huge weight that had lifted off my shoulders while I was away comes back. I feel heavy and slow; my mood is down. The problem with this, outside of it being an uncomfortable way to feel, is that I have to jump right back into the swing of things. There’s no time to adjust, to be sad and alone, to get comfortable and reacclimate. People need things from me; I need to make money; bills and appointments and phone calls need seeing to; and everything I left behind has to be taken care of.
The transitions in a yoga class are similar. We are in a pose and happy, then have to “jump” right to the next pose even though we might not even like that pose. I quote “jump” because it is our choice to jump. The key to all of this moving from one thing to the next is that we CHOOSE how we transition. We can get home and force ourselves to unpack our luggage, situate our homes, contact everyone who needs us, and work long days to catch-up (to jump right in), or we can slow it down. If we were away, clearly everything was okay without us. That’s not to say we’re meaningless, but it is to say that we have a little leeway between blissful vacation and crazy regular life. During that time in between, adjustments have to be made to make life more manageable. It’s the perfect time to stay slow, and to realize that the huge to-do list can be taken care of over time. It’s a good time to set priorities, to acknowledge what was so blissful about vacation and how we can actually take a piece of that with us.
In the yoga practice, that transitional piece is the breath. We move from breathing with intention in the pose we like to breathing with intention while we transition, to breathing with intention while we’re in the pose we dislike. Then, miraculously, the thing we dislike becomes bearable and more likable, and even something that we can work with rather than against.
Embracing transition gives us the opportunity to prepare for the next step. The reason our goals take so long to achieve is because we have to be prepared to breathe with intention once our goal (or pose) has been met. We have to prepare ourselves for what may come and to be present with it once it’s here. We also have to consider that what may come may not be what we thought would come. Maybe you expect to return from vacation “filled with boundless energy and restored creativity that will fuel new projects” (Forbes), but the reality is that it’s hard to get back to zero and start anything new for a while. We have to come back into the present and experience the time it takes to catch up and then move on.
According to the Savvy Backpacker, coming back from some amazing trip is best handled by spending time with special people, exercising (we recommend yoga :)), accepting the change of scenery and seeking out new, exciting things. In order to apply any lesson our vacation may have taught us, we have to progressively transition, piece by piece into everyday life. Something we can look forward to is that everyday life might shift into something more enjoyable if we embrace this time between vacation and settling back in: learning from vacation; changing schedule, lifestyle, priorities; adding new important people and applying any new ideas into the next step of our life.
Maintaining a present, mindful state of being is how we embrace the things that are happening now, not only when they are exciting and interesting, but also when they are difficult and hard to understand, boring, or crazy. Our mindfulness and our breath take us through the transition in a way that keeps us alert to what we need to know about the future, and keep us content with the present. The goal is not to meet the goal. The goal is to travel there gracefully.
Brandee is a yoga teacher at Siesta Yoga. One of her favorite classes to teach is a monthly passive yoga class called Essential Restorative, in which she explores topics like this through breathing, meditation, and physical relaxation. It is “essential” for the body to calm down, for us to embrace what is going on right now instead of rushing through it and on to the next thing. We must feel what’s going on in order to heal, her teacher says. It is also “essential” because class includes the use of aromatherapy through essential oils. Next up: January 17 – Welcoming the New Year (more info).