Things don’t often end well. Whether it is a relationship, a job, a club membership — whatever it is — the ending is often the toughest part. It can be emotional, fraught with disappointment, anger or all of the above. The end is often something we prefer to avoid or to rush through, getting it over with and moving forward to the start of something new.
But, what about in a yoga posture? The end is often the most important part. It is at the end of the posture where you break new ground, push your edge, and grow. And the exit is equally important — holding the form firmly during the exit so that no injury occurs. Through yoga, maybe we can learn to make a proper exit elsewhere in life.
Exiting a posture properly can be challenging. Sometimes as I exert myself in a posture, I find myself counting down the seconds, yearning for the end to come. Upon hearing “Change,” I shoot out of the posture in a burst of relief, but the movement is sloppy and at high risk for causing injury. How can I remain centered in my practice so that I can move in and out of postures with strength and without injury?
For me, it is all about the breath. If I am in control of my breath, I can work hard in the posture, but remain calm, breathing through the exertion or the stretch. My mind is quiet and focused, not counting down the final seconds in a panic. I can listen to the dialogue, pushing myself to do that final spine twist in Triangle Pose or compress that one last time in Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee Pose. I can exit with control, squeezing out the final benefit of each posture — working the muscles in reverse.
It is easy to spot the more seasoned practitioners in class. They move into Savasna efficiently and without fanfare, keep the wiping and fidgeting to a minimum, and even when they are struggling, they sit on their mat quietly, present as they breathe. They also enter and exit postures with grace. They take their time, moving with the class, but also at their own pace. They are in control of their bodies as they work them and stay poised through the exit and into Savasna. The exit is part of their posture, not a separate thing.
If we can control our exits in yoga, maybe we can carry this into our daily lives. It would be wonderful to stay calm as something ends, rather than fall victim to our emotions. To remain consistent in our effort and commitment through to the end of something, rather than giving in to laziness or hurrying through the last steps to get something done. First in the yoga room, then into life. That is my goal.
Readers, do you make a proper exit from your postures?