The Yoga of In-Between Moments

Transitions between poses are the most difficult times to stay focused and mindful. They are the times when people often get hurt. We go on autopilot. We space out and simply stop being attentive at the moment when our presence matters most. Even when we’re coming out of Savasana, we tend to jerk the body up and don’t leave time for a considered reinstating of movement.

That’s why we tell students to go deeper into a pose just before coming out; it’s in order to keep ourselves attentive to those critical in-between moments. For instance, I’ll offer an alignment instruction learned from the Iyengars: “Continue to externally rotate the standing leg knee while coming into and out of Half Moon pose.”

This isn’t just filler; these instructions are crucial for both the body and the mind. This is the micro for the macro. Transitions between yoga poses are metaphors for transitions in life (a small subject, I know, a little like birth and death).

For instance, Rodney and I have one daughter, JoJo, transitioning into college, and one daughter, Adesha, transitioning out of college. Watching them go through these transitions, readjusting and redefining themselves, can be painful. It can also be revelatory.

We are always transitioning: Making the change from living alone to living with someone can be as tricky as the transition from being married to being divorced. Beginning to menstruate is a major transition, as is menopause. Becoming a sexually active adult can be initially traumatizing. Much of our yoga practice, as well as our lives are spent in transition.

Yoga shows us that becoming mindful and comfortable during these transitions will open the way to more meaningful and full human experiences. The maha transitions are the big ones, birth, and death; the small births and deaths we experience every day are dress rehearsals. How should we handle these moments of uncertainty—moving from one thing to another?

My advice is, with humor and compassion.

This post was originally published on Colleen's blog.

Colleen Saidman Yee, christened “the First Lady of Yoga” by the New York Times, leads trainings around the world with her husband, Rodney Yee.

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