The Shifting Ground

Posted on Mar 31, 2014

In the midst of teaching a class last week, I checked in with a student who had been working with a series of injuries. When she commented that she was “falling apart,” intending to be encouraging I quickly assured her that she was not. Later in the day though I thought; “Well, she probably kind of is.”  A busy, working mom, sliding into the last weeks of her Yoga Teacher Training program, the ground was almost certainly shifting beneath her.

Her statement reminded me of how I felt last year after an Embodied Anatomy class with Amy Matthews.  Amy was working with us on identifying and mobilizing the numerous and often-ignored joints of the foot. We had been exploring the pathway of weight moving through the bones and how that might occur most efficiently when standing and walking.  For weeks afterwards my feet felt weird and kind of hurt.  Perplexed and a little concerned, I spoke to Sarah Barnaby, the patient class assistant, who looked at what was going on, listened to my complaints and said, “I think your foot is just figuring things out.”  Eventually, I found that she was right.

The settling of the bones in my feet was something like the settling of a new house.  It felt unstable and there were cracks, noises, and concerns.  Lately, at age 52, I seem to be experiencing a whole bunch of these foundational shifts at once.   My daughter  has moved out, my work life is regaining intensity, my relationships are changing, and my body, my true physical home, seems to be going through a profound foundational shift of its own …which maybe I don’t even want to talk (or think) about just yet!

My clear-eyed teacher, Cyndi Lee, would describe working with these transitional states as the practice of being in-between.  And she would probably make me laugh.  But it is something I’ve talked about before here as well.  Because it comes up all the time—like for my student; just as she is arriving on new ground, it shifts beneath her feet.  It can feel like everything is falling apart and it can even hurt.

Perhaps it is hardest at this time of year.  This early Spring that doesn’t feel like Spring.  The wind is cold and seems to be blowing even more than in Winter.  The birds look unsettled and are careening around overhead.  I’d like to feel the steady warmth of May, but I suppose there is still rebuilding that the earth is working on, wild preparations underway.  There definitely will be a whole bunch of downpours, but soon too; new roots, blossoms.






  1. So beautiful, SK.

  2. Beautiful post. You seem like a fantastic yoga instructor, I wish I could take a class with you!

    Please check out my post on living fearlessly and let me know what you think

    • Thanks so much Sierra! Your post is a a beautiful concept and the site a great idea. I wish you could take my yoga class too!

  3. Love this Captain, my Captain. It reminds me of what Mr. Iyengar says in Light on Life (loosely paraphrased and totally self-interpreted!) when he says we need a connection to gravity and a sense of direction to practice yoga. In my mind, he’s saying, we can’t know where we’re going until we know where we are. These transitional times (between seasons, between decades) are destabilizing and until we feel we’ve “landed,” it’s hard to know what’s in store, and where we’re moving next. (did any of that make any sense whatsoever?!)

    • Thanks Sparrowyogi!! Maybe yoga in fact gives us that connection to gravity, so we can keep finding our feet underneath us no matter how fast it’s all spinning?

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