I just returned from teaching at the Toronto Yoga Conference. What an amazing event! So many open-hearted and receptive yogis. There were over 3000 attendees this year and a few of my classes had over 100 students. The energy was magnificent and uplifting.

Among the many teachings I offered, I spoke about the role of resistance in our spiritual growth. Everyone experiences resistance. But only the yogis (those seeking freedom) know the value of it. It’s all too typical to resist our resistance when it arises. That’s normal and biologically an instinctive reaction against pain. But we all know that when you resist your resistance, everything gets worse. You harden down inside yourself and your original resistance becomes a burden that can be overwhelming. You have to step back, take a breath, and at least try to release your resistance to your resistance. When you can let go of your resistance to your resistance, resistance stands alone and offers its message.

I’ve been going to Masters Swim practice for over seven years and almost every time about an hour before practice, I experience resistance. Maybe it’s because most of our practices are in the evening and by the end of the day I’m tired. But it never fails. I say to myself, “I don’t really feel like working out. I’m tired. The water is so cold.” There can be a slew of other poor excuses. But then it never fails. After the workout I feel refreshed, alive, and full of energy. This is the reason why I continue to swim. But I always forget the benefit before the practice. For resistance of this type, it’s good to push through it and do it anyway. 

It’s a subtle thing, but you need to discern when the resistance you’re experiencing is the kind to push through or heed. If you experience resistance, for instance, before going to a yoga class, I highly recommend taking a breath, stepping back mentally, and reassessing. This is probably the kind of resistance you need to push through. However, if you have a shoulder injury and you know the class focus will be on Handstands, then perhaps your resistance is worth listening to. Don’t go. Choose a restorative or therapeutic class instead.

Resistance is not something to shun or avoid. Resistance is the harbinger of positive growth. No resistance, no growth. The yogi wants to grow, wants to evolve, wants to change for the better. But that change is usually preceded by resistance. Open to it. Accept it. Embrace it as best you can. The yogi chooses to get good at dealing with resistance such that you don’t let your resistance stop you from following your heart and doing the good things for yourself or others.

I remember the metaphor of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. There’s a story about the little boy who finds a chrysalis in the field with the head of the butterfly just starting to break through the chrysalis. The boy was overjoyed to find this and wanted to see the miracle of the butterfly unfold before his eyes. So he began blowing on the cocoon to heat it up. It worked! The butterfly quickly emerged from the cocoon and with wings all crumpled up, took a few steps then died. The boy was devastated. What he didn’t know was that the resistance of the wings against the chrysalis over a period of time is what gives the butterfly its strength to emerge safely out of the cocoon. Resistance is nature’s way of preparing you to shift to a higher level of being. 

May you shift your attitude toward the resistance that is present in your life right now and honor it as nature’s way of helping you become the strong, wise, effective, loving, supportive pillar of light for yourself and your community that you are meant to be.

Come grow yourself and fly with me in the upcoming courses:

April 20 Great Barrington, MA LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
April 25-28 Stockbridge, MA (Kripalu) LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
May 11 Great Barrington, MA LEARN MORE AND REGISTER


Below are some seeds of wisdom for dealing with resistance and anxiety (especially good for teachers):

  • Resistance means that something good is opening up inside of you.
  • Anxiety before teaching (or doing anything) is the normal reaction to stepping into your greatness and into the unknown.
  • Anxiety and oxygen cannot co-exist. Take three deep breaths.
  • Resistance always precedes breaking through to a new level of being.
  • Stay with yourself and affirm that you have everything you need to pull through it.
  • Affirm to yourself that you want to grow and not stay small and stuck in old, self-limiting patterns.
  • You can do anything you set your mind to do. You simply need to learn how to quiet your mind and believe in yourself.
  • Teaching yoga will not allow you to stay small and shrink back from your magnificence.
  • Teaching demands that you step up and be the perfectly “imperfect” spokesperson for what you know to be true and speak from your heart.
  • Your risk to break through your resistance is what others need to see to be able to break through their own resistance and live the life of their dreams.
  • Seeds of greatness have already been planted deep in your heart. Think of your anxiety as the “fertilizer” needed to help enrich your soil. Breathe into it. Embrace it as best you can and do it anyway.
  • Take your anxiety along for the ride. If you can’t get rid of it, then know that it must be serving a bigger purpose. Befriend it and get to know it. Invite it in. But don’t let it drive your vehicle. Put it in the back seat with love, while you take hold of the steering wheel and move in the direction of your highest good.

Let your “north star” (your deeper purpose) be your guide!