It’s easy to get stuck in life. We can get stuck in a job that is no longer challenging or interesting to us, we can get stuck in relationships that are stagnant and draining, we can get stuck in patterns of thinking and habits of the mind that cause us to suffer. Sometimes these patterns that keep us stuck are engrained so deeply in our psyche that it is difficult for us to recognize them as simply patterns of our mind or behavior. We might even identify ourselves by these habits or patterns, developing the need to fiercely defend these parts of who we are which makes it even trickier. We often become so entrenched in a way of being that we cannot distinguish between what is helping us achieve our dreams and what is an obstacle to future progress.

Yoga practice offers us the ability to take a step back. One of the ways that the asana (postures) practice works is by forcing us to simplify our awareness. We are asked to consistently draw our attention again and again back to the task at hand in the present moment. We begin to notice when we have abandoned our bodies, breath and the pose and once we are able to notice this, we can gently guide ourselves back to the here and now. We align our awareness and our actions with what is really happening in front of us as we flow from pose to pose, breathing in and out while we maintain our attention on what’s happening now.

This process slices through the veil of the constant stream of thoughts, stories and imagined realities to a place where we are capable of observing our thoughts rather than reacting to them. Swami Vivekananda declared “Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom,” and it is in this moment that we become unstuck, and only then are we truly free to decide who we are and how we wish to proceed. It’s this crucial ability to create a pause, cultivating enough space in our bodies and minds that gives us the choice to stay stuck, move on, or let go.

Over the course of just one yoga practice, we may have this process happen hundreds, even thousands of times. Again and again we feel into a pose, open up to sensation, release areas of tension, and relax into our current state of life with the opportunity to practice breathing even larger in the face of the unknown. The vinyasa flow yoga practice gets us unstuck in a very hands-on and tangible way by using our body and breath to create moments of pause, which in turn open up spaces for us to make a conscious choice. We are offered the chance to continue moving forward in our lives lighter and more alive, shedding what we no longer need to make room for the possibility of our dreams coming true.

Are you stuck? Have you ever been stuck? What are your strategies and tools for getting unstuck?