Yogi of the Month:
Dennis Hartlieb

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Transitions are all around us this time of year! Sharyn's helpful guidance...

For some reason, and it’s not just because I was raised Jewish, I always think of the new year as September. Maybe it’s so many years in school that makes it feel like the New Year or maybe it’s because the transition from summer to fall seems like such a big leap. It must be a new beginning. It’s nothing like the subtle melting of snow between winter and spring or the slow warmth of moving from spring to summer, but it’s the giant leap from what feels so free and expansive in the summer, to something more ritualized and contractive in the Fall. We crave the routine and the idea of certainty or normalcy that it provide, yet moving into it is never so smooth.

These transitions big and small happen constantly and yoga can only help us to embrace this “in between.” It’s the work of Svadyaya or constant self study that allows us to watch ourselves with a clear view as we move through life’s transitions. When we embrace the uncertainty, whether it be kids going back to school, moving into a new school, new jobs, new homes, new roles and more, we embrace the present moment for what it is, not how we think it should be.

There are many transitions in yoga. In asana, as we move from pose to pose there’s a transition. In ashtanga yoga, or vinyasa flow, we move from pose to pose with the breath and a mini version of a sun salute. This flow is like hitting the clear button on your calculator. We’ve added together a bunch of poses, just like numbers, and then we need to clear it out to do our next equation. This is done over and over again making the practice a continuum. We don’t practice yoga to get to the end of the class. Yet, half the time we’re in yoga class we’re thinking about the next place we have to be or we walk so fast to our car that we miss the flowers along the way. By paying attention to the transition, the getting there, we bring our focus back to the journey instead of the destination. The constant connection to the breath brings us right back to the pose in our body, in the present moment. Not how it was yesterday or will be next week. It becomes a metaphor for the transitions in life. If we can hold these in between moments, with a sense of kindness, compassion and understanding, we can let go of the struggle to get where we think we need to be. We realize there is nothing to get and that the prize is in the process. When we embrace the in between times or transitions in life and in our practice, we begin to have faith in the necessity and beauty of these times. Eventually, we have less discomfort in the transition and all of life is a continuum of practice.
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