Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Path OF Least Resistance

One of the most invaluable lessons was taught to me by my yoga teacher. As a group of us wannabe yogis sweated and toiled over seemingly impossible poses, my all-knowing guru had this to say:

The pain is in the resistance.

Lean into the stretch. Acknowledge the ache, allow your body to accept it. Don't fight it. Perhaps it is something you will understand when you try. If your muscles are cold or if you haven't exercised in a while, sit with your legs outstretched and try to touch your toes with your fingers without bending your knees. You will feel the burn in the back of your thighs. Maybe your shoulders might start to hurt as it dawns on you just how far away our toes are from our upper bodies. You may even secretly wish you visited the gym more often.

But once you lean into the pose, and stop fighting it, I guarantee you will find that you do have it in you to inch closer than you thought possible.

This nugget of wisdom saw me through two years of Ashtanga and enabled me through many insane poses that hurt like hell to try.

However, I have learned that the magic about this piece of advice, lies elsewhere, beyond the realm of yoga and my physical body.

It applies remarkably well to life too.

If you are someone who is as controlling as I am about how I feel things should be, the concept of not resisting is something that has to be consciously applied. It is not natural for me to not put up a fight. To freely allow fate and other forces to come through the doors of my life and take whatever it wishes with it is frightening. Putting up a fight is an innate, albeit over-used survival tool.

Leaning into the pose, is in effect, acceptance that there are things I cannot always control. It's about knowing my limits. About letting the wind blow one way, and simply flowing with it. Like how the Beatles put it: letting it be.

Today, a meaningful but tortured relationship came to an end. It is sad, yes. But to my surprise, it isn't devastating, like the relationship itself had come to be. And thanks to my yoga teacher's wise words, I realise that the pain had all been in the resistance. Fighting the fact that things were not unfolding in the manner I had envisaged, fighting the thought that it would end, fighting the possibility that perhaps, this just want meant to be. The fight has been painful and completely self-inflicted. Almost a little indulgent if truth be told.

As recent events have come to pass, and as every last ounce of fight left me, there was no other path for me to take except to let go. To allow myself to.

Perhaps I am in denial or perhaps I have just been resisting for the sake of resisting, I have not felt the familiar rise of panic and tragedy that comes with the end of a relationship, especially one as meaningful as the one that has just come to pass. As I said, sad, yes; but the feeling that life has ended? Most definitely not.

So, I'm leaning into the pose. Acknowledging the sadness. Accepting the discomfort. And hopefully, I will find it in me to move forward and on with life. In fact, I know I will and that there are many happy days ahead. I only have to allow it.

Thank you yoga teacher, for helping me get through the entire primary series, and this funny thing called life.