I had the most interesting thing happen in class this week. As the group was moving through an intense kapotasana/pigeon sequence (yep, it was a hip class kind of morning) I offered a participant a suggestion for her practice. After she moved into it I asked her how it felt. She said “I’m not really sure. I hate this pose.”
Ahhhhh – hate! This got me thinking…
First I thought about hate as it connects to preferences. It is completely legal to have preference – we all have them. An example would be preferring pose A over pose B, or dark chocolate to milk chocolate. This moved me into the debate about “if you hate a pose then it’s one you need to practice”. Then I thought about hating a pose, and how it creates resistance in us.
From resistance I thought of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, and how every resistance we have was once a desire. The cycle goes something like this:
1. First we Desire
2. This desire leads us to take Action to attain the desire
3. The experience of acting creates a Memory of/from the experience
4. From the memory we put the experience into one of two categories:
a) good (desire again – go back to step 1 and repeat)
b) bad (resistance! – go to step 5)
5. Do everything in my power to keep this from happening again!
Hmmm. There is preference yes, however I believe that hate falls in the klesha category of Dvesa (think Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras- excessive disliking or aversion). And when we dislike something enough to hate it, we enter into a relationship with it. This can also happens on the other end of the spectrum too, with excessive liking or craving. When we enter into a relationship with it, it becomes bigger somehow. On a physical level we tighten and move into fight or flight (stress response). On an energetic level more energy gets used with the stress response and working hard to resist – prana flows less freely through the system. On an emotional level any other similar experience we’ve had begins to stir up the matching emotions – fear, anger (this one is my go to emotion), shame, guilt, hurt, vulnerability, sadness, grief. On a mind level we’ll have a tendency to react by repeating an existing habit pattern (oh the samskaras!!!)… what would another option be?
Here I draw on the Kripalu methodology. One word: BRFWA. OK, it’s not really a word, it’s an acronym. For those of you who don’t know me well yet, in my past career I was a computer geek, and do I love acronyms! Back to BRFWA:
Breathe: when you notice resistance coming up in your experience, keep breathing with it, through it – whatever you can do to keep on breathing. One of the most beautiful gifts of focusing on the breath is that it keeps us embodied. When things get uncomfortable, it’s easy to leave the body and enter the hamster wheel of the mind.
Relax: as things start to tighten and grip, can you use your steady yogic breath to soften, open, and create space in your experience of resistance?
Feel: can you identify which sensations and feelings are coming up for you? Can you be with those sensations and feelings? This will help you start to see your habit patterns with more clarity.
Watch: are you able to witness your experience for what it is? It becomes an opportunity to develop the skill of lovingly and compassionately witnessing your experience… as you are able to do this for yourself, you will be able to do this for others too.
Allow: can you allow the experience to unfold without needing to change, manipulate, control or justify? Experience is just that, experience. Not everything needs to be fixed or explained or justified. Sometimes we can simply let things be.
As we BRFWA through our experiences of resistance we begin to notice something… that something is that our resistances are our path to freedom. Each time we are able to overcome a resistance to something, we become free-er on all levels and the world opens up to us more.
I share this entire story with you because this newsletter is something I have resisted for a long time now. You might be thinking “seriously?!?!” – yet it’s true. I have resisted, been afraid, of putting myself out there – my ideas, thoughts and heart out there – for the world to see. Now that I understand that the path of Yoga is to free myself of these resistances/fears/entanglements, I knew that I needed to send this newsletter and share what I’m learning.
And so begins a new phase in my world. Moving through resistance and into conscious action. Thank you for joining me on this next phase of my journey. I’m scared, and simultaneously stoked, and doing it anyways!
Shantih & Prema (peace and love) to you who are also on the path. May your adventures in moving through your resistances be rewarding, uplifting, and inspiring.
Mona L. Warner, ERYT500 & RYS500