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ZenLeader Series: Embracing Your Labyrinth, Musings from Kripalu

by Kristen Fisher

One of my longstanding dreams came to fruition this month when I was invited to teach as a Kulae Yoga DiploMAT ( at the internationally known and recognized Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. As always, I had on my “Lesson Lenses” walking into this unforgettable experience, knowing that it would transform me in some way, shape or form, forever.

It’s my honor to share some lessons learned from my journey as a Kripalu teacher that I hope you’ll find valuable and relevant, wherever you may be on your path through life today.

Transition Through Change with Grace & Openness

Just as we transition on the yoga mat (or the yoga board) into different, challenging postures, we move through various phases of our lives that create opportunities for growth. The reality is, sometimes those transitions aren’t always smooth, easy, or well-defined. This can be a scary feeling, to transition into a new phase when we have so much uncertainty to process and overcome. So, we hang on for dear life—either holding still, being rigid, or transitioning with inflexibility, which can create an injury (physically, mentally or emotionally) both on the mat and out in the world.

In a recent movie I watched, Peace, Love and Mis-Understanding, there is a quote that reflects this mindset perfectly: “Sometimes in art, like in life, you have to accept that you don’t know where things are going and keep on anyway…because that is when transformation can happen.”

At Kripalu, I closed all of my classes with my own repeated mantra: “The real yoga begins when we make the transition off of the mat and into the world.” As human beings, we have a myriad of connections, emotions, experiences, and challenges to contend with. Yoga teaches us how to move through all of those unexpected twists and turns with Hope, Openness, and Grace.

Our practice on the mat, as frustrating as it can be at times, can be directly applied to how we show up and respond to difficult situations in our everyday lives. For example, perhaps you’re holding a pose that feels uncomfortable for your body physically, and your natural inclination may be to think, “I want out of this…why am I even here…why is she keeping me in this pose for so long?”

I always encourage my students to fully recognize without judgment what thoughts arise during those trying moments and analyze how their reactions may also align with their general response to hardship in other facets of their lives.

The most impactful lesson I’ve learned from this experience is to realize that our own expectations and emotions can obstruct our innate power to evolve into our very best selves, because we are wishing circumstances would change, rather than facing the sometimes hard truth of what is, and dealing with that head-on. The reality is, this approach can lead to suffering which is inevitable, but often necessary for enlightenment and growth.

This concept can be easily implemented in your career today. What issues are you working to move through and process right now, so that you can grow professionally and holistically? Recognizing those challenges and understanding where you can improve is the first step you can take to elevate your emotional intelligence and become a more self-aware ZenLeader.

Embrace Your Labyrinth & Invest in Self-Worth

During my time on the Kripalu campus, I had the pleasure of walking through the Labyrinth on the sprawling grounds. A labyrinth is a winding maze that presents unpredictability and an uneasy feeling that you might be lost and left searching forever for the end of the path.

This labyrinth helped me to ponder my current journey through the ebbs and flows of life. It’s really the perfect metaphor, as we are unable to foresee the whole path, the bigger picture, that could swiftly lead us back to our center.

The lesson learned here is that in life, we must simply trust that putting one foot strategically in front of the other will eventually get us to the end of a path well-traveled. Of course, we could try and take a shortcut to the middle without anyone realizing what we’ve done, but would that be as gratifying, or will we feel cheated and ashamed?

The point is, you are the one who knows the underlying truth about your own thoughts, emotions, and behavior. You are the one ultimately responsible for defining your character and your mindset, which determines your self-worth and reflects how you invest in your own personal and professional growth.

What steps are you taking today to move forward in a more positive direction, to connect your passion with your ultimate purpose?

Learn more at and download my FREE goal-setting worksheet here to reflect on your own vision of the life you truly desire and deserve.

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