Yoga for most of us is a journey towards increased awareness and acceptance of the way things are. But letting go of our future-focused, goal-oriented mindset is a long journey, where we frequently find ourselves, like a mountaineer on a slope of loose rocks, taking two steps forward only to slide back one. Finding a place of stillness and full awareness at least in some yoga poses some of the time is a big step in the right direction. 

But when the poses themselves become mini-destinations along your path, you have reached an impasse on your journey that requires a new approach: Start focusing on the spaces between the poses, the transitions. Move away from the mindset of seeing your practice as a series of poses to perfect. Instead, focus on keeping your awareness constant throughout your practice, making the moments of transition count just as much as the moments in which you hold a particularly challenging pose. 

In addition to doing wonders for your awareness, focusing on the transitions—especially the transitions out of difficult poses—will also reduce your chance of injury. The easiest time to lose awareness is while coming out of a difficult pose, as you breathe a sigh of relief and your mind races ahead to being able to relax in an easier pose. And that is one of the most common moments for people to get injured. Not while in the difficult pose, where the difficulty itself keeps your mind in sharp focus, but when you think it’s over and your puppy mind dashes off into the future, leaving your body in the lurch.

Try it now: Get up off your chair and do a couple of sun salutations (right here, without a mat, in your net-surfing clothes), treating the whole series as one continuous movement, with no poses. Let each movement take as long as the corresponding breath, and link each movement as seamlessly to the next as you link each inhale to the following exhale.