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Breaking Through Resistance

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This week, I’m
preparing to teach at the Yoga Journal Conference in Boston. (I’ll share my
experiences with you next week!) This is the first time I’ll be presenting
during the main conference, and I’m thrilled by the new direction my teaching is
taking. But I didn’t always feel this way.

I spent the
majority of my career telling people (and myself) that I had absolutely no
desire to become “one of those touring yogis.” I don’t know if this attitude came out of my belief that it
would never happen, and so I thought, why pursue it? Or that I was daunted by the
work it would take, so figured, why begin it? Perhaps it’s that I’m a Scorpio
and like to hide out under my self-created rocks and write. Who knows?

Regardless of
the reason, I was 100 percent sure that the way my life looks now would never
be my reality. Then one day, I got the call. Or, rather, I made the call.

I was speaking
to someone at Yoga Journal about an unrelated matter, and we began
discussing my interest in leading a Friday evening, pre-main conference class
at the New York City event. As soon as I was asked to do it, my heart and
mind leapt at the chance.

Now, I had no idea I
would want to do this, much less really, really want to do it. I was as surprised by my reaction as I was
by the 98 beautiful people who showed up to my workshop on the appointed night. But at the
moment of invitation, I clearly saw that my highest satya, or truth, was not that I wanted to live a quiet, hermetic
life and never be inconvenienced by travel. It’s that I want to serve and share
the healing modality of yoga with as many people as possible. And so my lesser
resistance was broken by the simple power of my Dharma uprising.

In the year that
followed, I was nearly inundated with offers to present at other conferences
and at healing centers and studios. Before I was open to accepting this aspect
of my teaching life, very few opportunities appeared. Yet the moment I said yes,
they opened to me in the most rewarding and exciting ways. I have now become “one
of those touring yogis”– and I’ve never been happier.

As I take this next
step along my teaching path, I’m struck by what the simple removal of
resistance can do. It also occurs to me that in order to break through the
walls we erect that block our life’s path, we can’t just stand by passively and
do nothing. We have to meet resistance with Resistance.

I capitalize the
word “Resistance” to distinguish between the constructive actions that serve us
and that push back against the destructive resistances that don’t serve us. Another
name for this is satyagraha, or way of truth. Gandhi made satyagraha
the focal point in his life through positive, or nonviolent, Resistance.

In your own life,
both on and off the mat, I invite you to look at where you’re hitting up
against resistance to what might actually serve you. Kids do this when they
refuse to try broccoli. Adults do it when we choose an unhealthy meal over a
yoga class or self-criticism over confidence.

Don’t think for
a minute that I’m free of the push and pull of limiting behaviors and beliefs. Every
one of us experiences the drag of resistance. But as yogis, it’s what we do
from there that can either transform us or keep us stuck in the mud.

So the next time you stumble
upon a personal roadblock, take an action from satyagraha: Instead of turning
to old habits, use your spiritual stubbornness to break through.

I’ll see you on
the road!

Core Questions:
Where are you meeting resistance? Are you afraid to release your old stories,
to adopt healthy habits, or to form nourishing relationships? Most of all, do
you exist in a consciousness of lack or thrive in a mindset of abundance? Share
your struggles and victories with us.

Core Pose:
Lakshmi Kick

I designed this
pose to release old, stagnant energies; tone the lower body; unlock the hips; and
literally kick down the doors of inner resistance. It’s named for Lakshmi,
goddess of prosperity, abundance, wisdom, and beauty–attributes that can only
be achieved through the practice of satyagraha.

Come to the
front of your mat, feet slightly apart. Fold forward and plant your fingertips a
few inches in front of your toes. On an inhalation, draw one knee into your chest. Exhale the sound “Ha!”
as you mindfully and strongly kick your leg up behind you. The sound not only
firms your abdominals to support the kick, it’s a mantra to the Sun as well as
to your individual brightness and your possibilities.

Repeat 5-10
times; then switch to the other side. Rest in Child’s Pose when finished.