Yoga: A Path to Embodiment and Spiritual Growth

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By Dr. Mark Epstein

  • Author of “Thoughts Without a Thinker” and “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart”
  • Senior Lecturer at the Dharma Drum Institute for Liberal Education
  • Columbia University Faculty Member

A Serendipitous Encounter with Yoga

In a serendipitous turn, yoga emerged into my life as if orchestrated by a chorus of subtle cues. Initially, I resisted its allure, content with the solace of meditation. However, the echoes of yoga’s benefits grew louder, emanating from multiple sources. An exercise instructor, esteemed meditation teachers, and a renowned yoga practitioner all played their part in piquing my curiosity.

A Balancing Act of Physicality and Mindfulness

Upon embarking on my yoga journey, I discovered a profound resonance between its physical and spiritual aspects. The physical challenges evoked a sense of accomplishment, even amidst my imperfect attempts at postures. This mirrored the balance between effort and surrender in meditation, a dynamic that both intrigued and fulfilled me.

However, despite my initial enthusiasm, I soon realized that I had underestimated the need for caution in yoga. In Buddhist philosophy, emptiness is likened to a snake that can bite if not handled with reverence. Similarly, the pursuit of physical mastery in yoga requires a grounded approach.

The Perils of Overreaching

During a visit to my in-laws’ home, I succumbed to the allure of a handstand by the pool. In the absence of a supporting wall, my eagerness propelled me beyond my physical capabilities. I crashed onto the ground, sustaining a painful shoulder injury.

This mishap served as a stark reminder of the need for humility in my yoga practice. As I embraced yoga with zeal, I had inadvertently abandoned the lessons I had learned in meditation, leading to an imbalance in my physical approach.

Unity in Diversity

The experience taught me the importance of integrating the wisdom of meditation into my yoga journey. By cultivating a beginner’s mind, I could approach yoga with the same humility and presence that had guided my meditation practice.

In essence, the successful practice of yoga, like meditation, requires a harmonious blend of physical and spiritual awareness, reminding us that true growth lies not in mastery but in the constant pursuit of knowledge and understanding.


Yoga has had a profound impact on my life, complementing and enriching my meditation practice. By embracing the lessons of humility and balance, I have navigated the path of yoga with greater mindfulness and resilience.

Credit and Rights

This article is an original work by Dr. Mark Epstein and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Rights belong to OMG I Yoga.

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