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The Space Between: Navigating Life’s Transitions with Yoga

by Liza Bertini


One of my favorite quotes, so sweetly stated by Marilyn Ferguson, is “It is not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s the place in between that we fear. It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.” Change is profoundly challenging but is also inevitable, and so when something ends, like a job or a relationship, or that thing we are counting on doesn’t go as planned, we find ourselves submerged in discomfort, doubt, and fear. These shifts can often feel overwhelming and disorienting and can trigger anxiety, stress, and self-doubt. Sometimes we even choose unhappiness over uncertainty, like when we stay in a job we hate, but frequently something happens, an event that shifts everything and we find that it is impossible to go back to the way life was before. Or we can make the choice to change, without the shove of a traumatic event. However it happens, instead of beating ourselves up and thinking that we are failures or that there is something wrong with us, we can get curious about what is really present—fear, doubt, insecurities, and start to look at this position of being on the edge as the start of an amazing journey.


It takes incredible courage and vulnerability to embark on a journey that may be full of uncertainty.  The thing to remember is that the space in the middle of a transition has enormous potential. It’s fertile ground–anything is possible. Oftentimes, we allow our fear to create stories of what “bad stuff “might happen, but we hardly ever think of this space between as a place of creation and learning. Sometimes a new path is just the thing we need to enrich life in ways we never thought possible! Looking back, I bet you can think of a time in your life when you were in the midst of a transition and were feeling all the feels–fear, anxiousness, doubt, despair–only for the other side to turn out better than you ever imagined.

 

On the mat, finding stability in flow

On the yoga mat, transitions serve as a microcosm of life's transitions. Moving from one pose to another requires us to find stability amidst change, maintain awareness of the present moment, and surrender to the natural flow of breath and movement. Whether it's transitioning from downward-facing dog to plank or from warrior II to triangle pose, each transition presents an opportunity to cultivate focus, stability, and fluidity. By paying attention to our breath and body sensations during transitions, we can deepen our practice and unlock new layers of understanding of how we may be showing up during challenging times in life, off the mat.

 

In yoga, transitions also remind us of the impermanent nature of life. Just as we flow through poses, life itself is in a constant state of flux. Embracing transitions on the mat teaches us to surrender to change with grace and acceptance, rather than resisting it. This acceptance fosters resilience and equanimity, empowering us to navigate life's ups and downs with greater ease. Through consistent practice, we learn to cultivate a sense of groundedness and ease in the midst of flux.


Transitions off the mat, resilient living

Learning how to skillfully transition on the yoga mat lays the foundation for navigating life's transitions with greater resilience and grace. Here's how:

 

Presence and Awareness: In yoga, transitions demand presence and mindfulness. By tuning into the sensations of the body and the rhythm of the breath we cultivate a deeper awareness of the present moment. This heightened awareness translates off the mat, enabling us to navigate life's transitions with clarity and intentionality.

 

Letting Go of Attachments: Just as we release one pose to move into the next, life requires us to let go of attachments to the past and embrace the unfolding journey. Through the practice of non-attachment (vairagya), we learn to release resistance and surrender to the natural flow of life's transitions, trusting in the process and allowing space for growth and transformation.

 

Building Resilience: The challenges we encounter on the yoga mat – moments of imbalance, discomfort, and uncertainty – mirror the obstacles we face in life's transitions. By approaching these challenges with courage and resilience on the mat, we cultivate the inner strength and resilience needed to navigate life's transitions with greater ease and resilience.

 

Yoga philosophy provides us with powerful tools to navigate life transitions mindfully. The concept of "santosha" or contentment reminds us to find peace and gratitude amidst life's changes while the practice of “metta” encourages self-compassion and loving kindness towards ourselves and others. By integrating these principles into our daily lives, we can navigate transitions with more grace and embrace them as catalysts for growth and evolution.

 

Transitions as Yoga Teachers

As yoga teachers, we play a pivotal role in guiding students through their own journeys of transformation. Our classes serve as sacred spaces where students can explore the dance of transitions – both physical and metaphorical. By weaving themes of impermanence, acceptance, and resilience into our teachings, we empower our students to embrace change with courage and compassion.

 

Furthermore, our own embodiment of these teachings serves as a powerful example for our students. As we navigate our own life transitions with authenticity and grace, we inspire others to do the same. By leading by example and holding space for our students' experiences, we create a supportive community where growth and transformation can flourish.

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This spoke to my heart.❤️

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