Yoga is so simple. And yet, it’s not. Just like any other healthy relationship, our relationship with the postures must have a healthy dose of resistance: holding the form/framework to allow for more to happen in time. If we said yes to everything someone asked of us, chances are we would feel depleted and resentful fairly quickly. Similarly, if we flopped everywhere and into every posture, our body would start to give us some not so positive feedback. If we stopped any time we were challenged mentally or physically in a posture or in seated meditation we would never get anywhere. Can we resist the fluctuations and temptations of the mind and body and be in that space between stimulus and response? Can we hold something long enough to notice we’re even in it? Can we say no to something or someone to leave space for a “yes” that better suits us?
Yoga has evolved so much from it’s original Indian roots. What I notice now is, for the most part, the practice mimics the inconsistent, capricious nature of humankind. It is an interesting time to be in the yoga community. We live in a world where “doing what feels best” has given us permission to be lazy in our practice. As teachers, we are so fearful of offending or pushing someone to their limit for fear they might not like it. We zip from one posture to the next in less than a breath. Because that is “safer”. That feels better. WHERE IS YOUR STAYING POWER? WHERE IS YOUR DISCIPLINE, YOUR RESISTANCE? If everyone did exactly what they wanted at the exact moment they wanted our world would be in a lot of trouble.
Believe me, there is a time and place for listening to your instinct and “following your heart”— I mostly live by that. I would actually argue that gut instinct and reaction are two very different things. The first voice you hear could be either one; however, the origin of these internal voices come from two very different places: instinct from wisdom and reaction from fear. (That’s probably a separate blog post topic altogether.) Anyways, if we’re going to live in the realm of free flow and make it so extreme we have to match it with extreme discipline, grounding; resistance. Can we allow our heart to open in posture and still keep a strong mula bandha and uddiyana bandha? Can we sit on our ass and be silent even when it is SO HARD, and stick with it? We’ve all heard Patanjali’s sutra, “Yogas citta vriti nirodah”, which essentially means when the mind stops, consciousness will stand on it’s own. In many ways, resistance allows for consciousness to exist.
What allows us that staying power; that resistance? Well, tapas. My man Patanjali hooked it up again in his sutras, outlining the niyamas, or set of moral contracts which guide us towards positive behavior. The third niyama, tapas, is defined as austerity or discipline; an internal fire that burns away impurities. There has to be tapas in our yoga practice. Without it, we’re still the same mess as when we started. Tapas is staying power. Tapas is willpower. Tapas is determination. Tapas is anything that takes away in order to bring benefit somewhere else. Shit is gonna happen. Hard postures will be there. Hard situations will come up. Do we have the staying power to remain unaffected? Can we resist any little change in our thought and mood and allow ourselves to be present, open and clear no matter what? Spoiler alert, with consistent practice, the answer is a resounding yes.
Yes, it is hard! I’m right there with ya. However, that very resistance is the stuff that makes your practice and your life enjoyable. To know sweet, we must taste bitter. To know release, we must know tension. To know freedom, we must know constraint.
How has resistance held the space for something greater in your life or practice? I would love to hear from you!
If you’re wondering, mood music is a thing. Take a listen!
Mood music: “Resist the Temptation” by 2Pac