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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Acknowledging Resistance

Having the desire for an hour or so of peace and calm I left for Yoga Class at a studio close to home. It was a class taught by a friend and colleague, one to which I was very much looking forward. She is a fabulous instructor and without even looking at the type of class I knew that everything would be suited to my needs and abilities in the realms of stretch, strength and even room temperature.

Without my realizing, The Resistance started even before class had begun. The Resistance started as soon as I arrived. I was looking forward (and expecting) to glide through the door, pick my spot on the beautiful cork floor and place my mat. I was looking forward to the sacred time of communion - that quiet time right before class starts where one can hear others come in, get ready and set themselves down in shared anticipation of the beauty that is great yoga.

This did NOT happen for me today. Instead, I began to boil and bubble inside.

I am not sure what really happened but some how right after I walked in the door I ended up behind the reception desk. Some how instead of the peace and anonymity I craved, I ended up dealing with clients and customers and their rushing, pushing energy as they tried to complete purchases and get into class on time. Not only was I unprepared emotionally for the task, I was unprepared mentally for the desk-jockey/cashier way of thinking and it felt like everything I did seemed to take forever. As it happened I needed to ask a friend to place my mat for me and ended up being late for the very class I had come there to experience.

I entered and got myself settled just as the opening meditation came to completion. I had not a moment of "landing" time before we were asked to begin stretching and moving about.

In the beginning I simply enjoyed the music that was just loud enough to make me have to work to hear her voice. When I listened to the music I didn't really hear or understand her instructions. Only half enthusiastically I followed along sort of doing the leg raises and positions she suggested. I was in another world. I was trying to land, trying to find my peace and my place in this class. Little did I know, that peace would never come.

I didn't really want to do abdominal work so I did my own thing which made me feel good and comfortable. We were asked to roll over and come to all fours, to do Cat and Dog tilts and finally to move into Down Dog. We did some movements with Down Dog, Plank and Cobra before coming up to standing. It seemed like I was always one step behind the instructions. It seemed like peace was being held on a leash just outside of my grasp. Eventually though I began to settle in. I began to feel like maybe, just maybe I was beginning to land and find my groove.

This all changed the moment we started our second Sun Salutation. The first one was ok and fine to do for a warm up and I was good with that. What I was not prepared for was another Sun Salutation and then another. ... and then another. The more Sun Salutations we did the more I began to feel frustrated and resentful. It was fascinating how something so deep and strong, something so visceral could come up so fiercely from my belly during a practice I normally love.

This afternoon in Yoga Class I brushed up against a wall of Resistance. It is rare that I am present and still enough to experience the subtle changes and shifts in my body as a wave of Resistance emerges and courses through me, morphing as it goes. This afternoon reminded me of my first days as a Yoga student. My first few weeks when it seemed like all we did was Sun Salutations. I was reminded of how much I disliked them then and even more, how much my ego/mind still dislikes them.

One of the reasons I go to Yoga Class now is to learn new things. I can do Sun Salutations at home. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. The point is that I know how to do them and that I can do them. I understand wanting to include a few as a warm up and usually I am good with that. However, on this particular day I did not go to Yoga Class so that someone else could guide me through the most basic of beginner Sun Salutations. Today I had wanted a challenge. I had wanted to learn something new. I wanted to learn a new way of doing something or some new language that isn't in my daily repertoire. I wanted to be reminded of something delicious - physically, mentally and spiritually. What I received instead was a sharp reminder of my own stubbornness, a reminder that things inside can shift in the blink of an eye.

I was beginning to feel ripped off which is exceedingly rare for me. Normally I am happy to be in anyone's class. Today though something was afoot and I had gone into the experience with an expectation. When expectations are in play, it never fails that I will come out the other side disappointed. On this day, as my frustration mounted I broke with tradition (which isn't all that uncommon for me). I began to do my own thing and move in the way my body wanted me to move. First I did the Palm Tree Vinyasa then I began to do a more advanced Salutation, one that required more strength and concentration.

After doing my own thing for a while, trying to figure out in my head and feel in my body what the heck was going on and why I was having such a hard time with the class, I finally started to settle in and enjoy myself. It was of course at this point and all of a sudden - seemingly without warning - that class was over. I was surprised, disappointed and irritated all at the same time. My hopes for an enjoyable, comfortable, and somewhat challenging afternoon were dashed, flipped upside down and twisted into something I couldn't recognize. I felt cheated. Cheated by my own self, by my own expectations and failure to enjoy something that should have been a gift.

The questions I now ask myself after that class are threefold; 1) What am I resisting with the basic Sun Salutation? 2) Why did the Resistance come up in the way that it did? 3) What is it that I need to do with this feeling, this information and where do I need to go with it so that it doesn't happen again?

These are questions will sit in my heart as I move through the next few days. I might try a Salutation on my own to see if I can reproduce the same feelings and go deeper when they call - searching for a trigger, a sign or a shifting. I know that it is safe to explore like this and I know that the rewards for doing this kind of work are beyond that which I can comprehend. I know this Resistance has come up for a reason and it is my work now to stop and understand why.

Until next time -

Love and Light,


  1. Great Blog Heather, I am sharing to my FB site if that's OK. I help mums create and sustain their greatness by teaching and coaching about managing emotions and listening to the inner voice :) Grateful