Monday, May 18, 2009

The Cat in the Hat & Resistance in the Body

Like Dr. Seuss’s book, Oh The Places You’ll Go, perhaps some day I’ll write a book for my yoga students titled Oh The Obstacles You’ll Meet.

In class I often refer to these obstacles as “resistance”. When I first began the yoga asana practice I met the resistance of my hamstrings, my hips, and my spine. I met the resistance of neglected and denied emotions. I met the resistance of my self-doubt, the twisted knot of my lack of self-compassion, and the exhaustion of an unloved body. I met the resistance of a chronically dense sensation in my heart-center. I met the resistance of an over-active inner-critic. I met the resistance of an over-active perfectionist. Oh the Resistance I Met.

In the face of resistance on the yoga mat I have found the following questions to be very powerful and empowering tools: How am I meeting this resistance? Am I meeting this resistance with a fight - with my fists clenched, teeth gripped and shallow breath? Can I meet this resistance with its opposite - with a patient exhalation, a soft loose jaw and with loving compassion directed to the area of resistance?

Consider the lives and choices of Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa and Gandhi. These individuals lives reflect the possibility (and power) in meeting resistance with something other than...more resistance. They met life's inevitable resistances with non-violence, calm, compassion and intelligence. Their lives teach me that since resistance is inevitable how I handle resistance is my only choice. Staying tuned to how I confront obstacles and choosing a love-based response to them is one way to practice living yoga off the mat.

Oh the Compassion We'll Cultivate.