Friday, May 1, 2009


Starting as a tiny pearl-like egg, the butterfly goes through various transitions before spreading its wings and finding the freedom of flight. From the egg, the butterfly-to-be transitions to a caterpillar with a voracious appetite shedding its skin multiple times during this rapid growth phase.

Eventually the caterpillar goes into hibernation as a pupa, a cocoon-like stage. Here the caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult butterfly structures are formed. This pupa stage has a dull grey lifeless shape.

Finally this pupa transitions to the graceful butterfly that dances with lightness from flower to flower. The wings of the butterfly appear fragile but they are strong enough to carry the butterflies many miles. The short span of the butterfly's life is a microcosmic example of the many transitions we will experience through life.

Transitions are a passage from one state to another. They can be beautiful, difficult, transformative and/or scary. When we are mindful of the transitions we can flow more easily between the different states. Without this awareness, our new situation may seem difficult and even overwhelming.

Being sensitive to the transitions between poses in our yoga practice is an important part of our practice. When these transitions are done with grace and intention, we bring a fullness and vitality to our practice that otherwise would be lacking. More injuries occur coming out of yoga poses than at any other point of the practice. Instead of injury you can create a beautiful dance, a kind of poetry-in-motion, with the awareness of the transitions.

We can learn many lessons by being conscious of the seemingly unimportant moments. Living in the moment makes the transitions easier and smoother. Although some transitions in our life can be difficult, if we are willing to engage fully in the macrocosm of life, we can ease the pain of these transitions. Life continues to unfold with all its twists and turns, surprises and gifts, while its meaning reveals itself through the journey. Isaac Asimov states: "Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It is the transition that is troublesome."

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