As winter maintains its cold, frigid grip, the pain in my body intensifies; my muscles and joints tense and tighten. I long for the sun’s warmth to ease my aching muscles and joints. Not feeling particularly inspired recently, I made my way to one of my favorite morning yoga practices. The studio was warm, serene, a haven. As I unrolled my mat and gingerly met it, body braced for the hour of stretching that was to unfold. Feeling the stiffness in my mind, body, and spirit, I set my practice intention…possibilities.
I went inside, closed my eyes, and surrendered into the rhythm of meditation in motion as the guiding phrase, “allow yourself to release into the pose” echoed. With each breath, I descended deeper into the phrase, “…allow yourself to release into the pose.” I felt my mind, body, and spirit begin to release into each pose…even half-moon came with ease. I trusted, looked up, and allowed my heart to open. Without getting too freaked out by what my body was doing, I gently breathed into my intention…possibilities. My mind lit up with insight, “What if we allowed ourselves to release into life? What if with each breath, we trusted, opened, and eased into life? What if we simply stopped resisting?”
Resistance is a knot that binds us as tight as the muscles in our bodies, as tight as the thoughts tethered to our minds. We long to stretch, but once we feel the tension, the tightness, the uncomfortable edge, we pull back, we stop, we “Yes, but…” instead.
We don’t trust breathing into the tightness and exploring what might be possible. Instead, we fight, we resist, we control. We defend, “I can’t!” “There’s no way!” “I’m too afraid!” “Are you kidding me?” “That’s impossible!” Worse, we fight, we resist, and we control those in our lives, especially are kids. “Are you crazy?” “You can’t do that?” “You’ll never make it!” “You don’t have what it takes!” “You’re not good enough!”
Resistance stops us cold.
Yet, we want to stretch! We want to feel the release. You know, the good hurt of a good stretch? The “Aw, that feels good” feeling when we stretch in bed in the morning and roll around in the freedom of the covers, or when we stretch our arms overhead in preparation for shavasana, the final resting pose at the end of a yoga practice. However, when it comes to stretching in our lives, we tighten, we control, we resist…
…enter the voice of a gentle yoga instructor who softly gives us permission, “…allow yourself to release into the pose…”
Why won’t we give ourselves permission to release into life? Instead, we wait for permission from some external source. We wait for permission from our bank accounts. We wait for permission from time. We wait for permission from our relationships. We wait for permission from our families.
While we wait, we talk ourselves out of possibilities because we fear releasing and stretching on our own. We fear giving ourselves permission. We deny, rationalize, intellectualize, explain, and defend our resistance, our control, our lack of trust to simply release into the pose, into life, into possibilities.
We hold so tightly; it’s no wonder that we can’t breathe.
I remember clearly the day I was driving in my car and noticed that I wasn’t breathing. I became painfully aware that I was holding be breath. How long had I not been breathing? How long had I been resisting? How long had I been controlling? I’m sure most of my life.
That day in my car was pivotal for me. I joined a yoga studio, started meditating, got in touch with my breathing, started connecting with my mind, body, and spirit, and with courage by my side, embarked on a journey to understand my relationship with resistance. I grew to understand the role that permission and perfection played in my relationships with resistance, and how fear, shame, and unworthiness were at the source.
I discovered how my ego used fear, shame, and unworthiness to feed my resistance. Whereas my ego was trying to protect me, I allowed it to control me with, “That’s scary.” “You can’t do that.” “You’re not good enough.” “You’ll make a fool of yourself if you do that.” “People will laugh at you.” You’ll fail.” “You’re not smart enough.” “What if you fall?” “You’ll humiliate yourself.” “Don’t do it.”
Along my journey of releasing resistance, I found my soul and met a few new travel companions: courage, curiosity, clarity, compassion, and creativity. Together, we’re untying the knot of resistance. Collectively, we are inspiring possibilities by quieting my ego and listening to the voice of my soul.
Releasing into the pose and into life is simple, yet, not always easy. Some days, aches, pains, and tightness make it hard to move. Fear, shame, and unworthiness make it hard to breathe. Resistance feels more accessible, easier, perhaps even more comfortable…
…enter the voice of the gentle soul, my soul, that gives me permission, “…allow yourself to release into the pose…you got this…trust…look up…open your heart.”