Last week during a Hatha yoga class I discovered how many times I hold my breath. Turns out it’s every time I’m about to do something difficult. Generally this form of yoga is not that strenuous but I found this particular session challenging. Now that I’m thinking back, it was after finding out that the class with my regular instructor was booked that my frame of mind changed. Another set of thoughts began to set the tone for my day. Was I really in the mood for a different instructor and that too in an unfamiliar location? On arriving I decided that I did not really like the room. The people were not the same. Once the class began, I found the instructor to be aggressive in his approach. Swept away by the drama in my head, it was only as I tried to go deep into the poses that I came face to face with my own resistance. Suddenly and strongly. In opposition to what was. After realising this, I was able to shift my energy and focus on the practice.
In hindsight it’s always easier to follow the thoughts that lead us into a such a defensive state. Usually the initial shift in perspective is so imperceptible that we may miss it, along with the thoughts that come in its wake. The mind chatter may become so incessant and loud that we may also disregard the signals our body is giving us, in my case it was my breath. So why is it so important to remain vigilant when resistance shows up in our life? Let’s look to the definition of the word.
Resistance: The refusal to accept or comply with something.
When we refuse to accept what is, whether it concerns a person, an unsatisfactory situation or a negative habit, we go into denial. We then try to ‘rectify’ things by trying to control and change them and we all know how well that turns out. Similarly, by not complying when things don’t suit us, we step out of the flow of life as it’s unfolding. Stepping out of this flow is like stepping out of a room full of friends and family. We feel separate and alone. Neither of these approaches is an effective way to navigate this state.
At such a time, a shift in perspective is called for. Instead of trying to fix or avoid something so that we may continue to remain in our place of comfort, we need to ask ourself this question: ‘Even though this situation is far from what I consider to be pleasant, what can I learn or take away from it so that my awareness may expand and I may see in a way that I could not before?’
Resistance shines a light on our limitations. It draws our attention to where we need to grow. In accepting the challenge we align ourself with the flow of life which brings us all that it does to bless us and to offer us countless opportunities to raise ourself to our highest potential.