Focusing on the Transitions

Yoga masters pay a lot of attention to transitions. The entire yoga philosophy is not about abrupt stops and starts, but smooth transitions of breath into breath and moment into moment. This philosophy applies to all activities in life — the transition between sleep and wakefulness, the transition between work and play, and even the transition from year to year and decade to decade, for example. In yoga class, it means paying as much attention to getting into and out of a pose as being in the pose itself.

The object is to make all transitions, from the smallest to the largest, smooth and graceful so you maintain your self-awareness and your yoga consciousness as a matter of course, no matter what you do or where you go. When you take on a yoga lifestyle, you strive to make all your activities — all the moments of your life — one vast, inspired moment imbued with yoga consciousness. This effort gives you a greater sense of personal empowerment and freedom of choice as you skillfully live your life. With each breath and each moment leading one to the other, you're fully alive as you embrace your life to its fullest without missing out on a single moment of the journey.

Easier said than done, of course, but yoga with weights can help. To start down the road of greater consciousness, focus on the transition between yoga-with-weights exercises and how you link one breath to the next. (See Chapter 4 for breathing details.) Try to create effortless, flowing, graceful transitions between exercises, with as little excess movement as possible. That means when the mind wanders, as it will, you gently pull it back and focus on what you're doing in the present. When you forget to breathe properly, you put more mental effort into breathing next time. You observe your own training, and, in the process, you become your own peak-performance coach. No one knows better than you do whether you're getting the most out of yoga-with-weights exercises.

By focusing on the transitions between exercises, you can carry vitality, strength, and endurance from one exercise to the next. With enough attention to transitions, you can turn your yoga-with-weights workout into a living dance, with all the postures connected through balance, presence, attention, and breath. And guess what? You'll even have some fun in the process.

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