In an ironic turn, this week’s theme has been more than present and truly lived up to its meaning! Each time I have begun to write, something has come up. Some of those things have been common distractions and were expected to some degree. Others have been out-of-nowhere, circus worthy events that no one could have seen coming, but had to be dealt with nonetheless. All them have contributed to the delay of this post by creating resistance.
And that’s how life is. Chances are that you’ve dealt with resistance of some kind already today. It might come in the form of a friend or loved one that feels you are doing something wrong. Or, maybe you will be asked to do something that you feel is wrong. Maybe something that should have been relatively easy is now worse than pulling teeth—something as simple as the weather turning a 20 minute ride into 2 hours. Or maybe it’s something worse—something scary—such as others with plans to challenge your livelihood. These are all things that I’ve experienced or discussed with others who have experienced resistance so far this week.
One of the positive things about resistance is that it is easy to spot. You have a plan or an expectation that something will turn out a certain way and it doesn’t—there it is.
Another positive aspect about resistance is that just because it has changed something for you, it is not necessarily wrong. The easy application of this idea is in class, in a pose that you are close to being able to do but not quite ready. The resistance here is real—your body is telling you to feel, to listen, to learn and to think.
So many times we view resistance as an adversary that must be overcome, but resistance is more like a sign on a highway—it doesn’t have an opinion about you or what you had planned, it just is.
In your pose, you have the ability to observe resistance and make the choice to practice that pose over time until that resistance has been worked through and no longer exists. This is a positive conclusion to the entire process of resistance. This process will benefit you not only by avoiding injury and learning to do the pose correctly, but also by developing the skill to read resistance like a sign and using it as a guide.
There are other ways of dealing with resistance. Some folks will run from it. They so badly do not want to observe it that they will give up and literally follow the path of least resistance. This time of year is fitting to discuss that as many will have already experienced resistance in their resolutions, not liked what they’ve seen, packed up and are headed home. They will not experience the pose the way that you will when you work through it. They will not experience anything in that way because they’ve allowed resistance to become a false wall instead of a path.
In life, there are things that we do not get to choose. These are resolute events and circumstances that don’t resist—they can and do stop us. But even when we meet that real wall, we still need to make a choice as to which way we will turn and continue moving, taking all that has been experienced into account.
Some deal with resistance by fighting it and for those that express themselves through anger, it is tempting to use resistance to push off of to make decisions. These are folks that will force the pose, maybe injuring themselves in the process and definitely skipping the subtle lessons that the pose has to teach. Kicking doors down makes a statement and allows for fast passage, but it does tend to disrupt the experience that would have occurred had you simply knocked.
Folks who chose this path make resistance a false wall just as much as those that run away. Neither experience will be all that it could have been.
This situation always reminds me of the first time I jumped off of a high-dive. I was scared, as lots of kids are. I climbed up and stood at the end of that board, staring down at the water and thought about how it could go. I could have chosen to climb back down. That comes with its own set of problems, but they are lesser than jumping. Or, I could jump and maybe belly-flop or back-slap the water (these being the terrors that every diver must face!). Or, I could follow the advice that one of my friend’s father gave and that I had watched work for others: I could stand at the end of the board with my hands clasped over my head and just fall forward.
I chose to fall forward. My hands touched the water first and I felt amazing as I plunged into the pool. From that point on, I loved the high-dive and it was no longer a point of resistance in my life, but something fun and worth doing.
Resistance was my guide. I did not run, nor did I fight. I took the path that led where I wanted to go, worked my way through it and enjoyed the result.
Yoga did not create resistance, but yoga does offer a perspective with which to meet it and allows it to show us what it will.
Once we allow ourselves to accept it as a guide and not just some negative force, we give ourselves options and perspective that allow us to experience situations in the way that is best for us and others.
In your poses, let resistance be the signal that another path must be taken to achieve that pose. Do not run. Do not fight it. Consider what the pose is there to accomplish and let it achieve this.
In life, let resistance be your proof that something needs to be different—maybe because the weather changed, or maybe because deep inside of you, something needs to be different. Do not run. Do not fight it. Consider what you are there to accomplish and let yourself achieve this.
This weeks poses will be posted this afternoon and we will begin to sequence them.