Occasionally my yoga teacher focuses on transitions. While the poses themselves are important, how we move from one pose to another is also worthy of attention.
Academic work is complex. You do a lot of different things in a day. In addition to thinking about how you do the specific tasks — email, teaching, writing, etc — it is worth considering the transitions: how you move from one type of work to another.
My transitions aren’t always graceful.
Sometimes I practically fall out of balance poses rather than lowering my leg with control. Moving from standing into a lunge, I sometimes force my foot back further than it would go comfortably.
I am learning to recognize that this means I need to develop certain muscles more. I may need to modify the pose so that I can do it AND enter it and come out of it with grace.
Maybe I don’t bring my foot up as high in the balance. Or I hold it for less time so I have energy left for the transition back to standing. I can take a shorter stance in the lunge, placing my foot with ease, whether I’m moving into it from standing or from downward dog.
Are there any transitions in your day that feel clumsy or forced?
Acknowledge the transition
The first step is to notice that there is a transition. Noticing that you are about to transition helps you do so with grace. This only takes a second.
Pause. Breathe. Relax. Transition.
Staying relaxed while transitioning is important
In my yoga classes, we’ve been focusing on the benefit of moving with relaxed muscles. Intuitively this makes even more sense for work transitions. Being relaxed in your transitions means that you have more energy available for the work you need to do.
- Do you tense up in anticipation of a transition?
- Are you forcing yourself through the transition?
Just noticing may make a difference. Noticing gives you an opportunity to change things. To stop, relax, and start again with grace.
In addition to noticing, you may want to change things. How could you make this transition easier?
- Could you sequence activities differently?
- What is your equivalent of taking a shorter stance?
Modifying the pose builds the strength you need
Your gremlins will tell you that even asking the question, “How could I make this easier?” is a sign of weakness or laziness. They want you to be able to do this job. They know this job is difficult. Unfortunately, they think bullying is an effective motivational technique.
In my daily yoga practice I finish with Crescent Lunge. I’ve been working on moving into the lunge gracefully: placing my foot where it goes when I move with ease and control and keeping my muscles relaxed.
Over just a few weeks, I’ve noticed that my stance is gradually getting wider. I’m not aiming for wider. I’m aiming for a strong relaxed stance. By doing what I can do with ease, I am building the strength to do more.
The same thing can happen for your transitions: Identify the transitions. Notice whether they are graceful, clumsy, or forced. Make modifications to introduce more ease.
Try an experiment
Pick 1 difficult transition in your work pattern. (Just 1. Ease.)
Ask yourself “How could I make this transition easier?” (maybe only a little bit easier, say 5-10% easier)
Write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous.
Look at your list and pick something to try. (Just one thing. Ease + scientific method.)
Decide how long you want to try that modification for. Put a reminder in your calendar to review how it’s going.
Do this thing for that amount of time. Make notes as you go along. (Observational data. This is research.)
If the gremlins pester you, you can use this colouring page to record their grumblings. Tell them you are making notes and will consider their input when you review your experiment on the date you put in your calendar.
Review. Adjust. Create another experiment.
I’d love to hear about your experiments
What you choose to try, how it goes, anything else about the process. You can add comments to this post or contact me by email.
Post recategorized Sept 21, 2015.