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Yoga: from resistance to healing benefits

9 Jan 2018
by Aimée Kuntz

Challenges: everyone has them. Including the attached resistance. What if you could use this resistance to create more space and (healing) possibilities? Fortunately, you can practice this very well in the yoga room.


From resistance to healing benefits in yoga postures

Physical resistance in yoga postures

Generally, you work in different directions in yoga postures. Contraction of one part of your body, while expanding another part. Stretching up towards the ceiling, while pressing another body part more down towards the floor.

In any case, there is always a body part that touches the floor (assuming that you are not levitating yet). Thereby, the floor provides resistance. This resistance could be used to stretch some body parts away from the floor.

For example, in the bikram half moon pose (which is another half moon posture than the vinyasa yoga half moon), you can stretch your tailbone more down by pushing your heels into the ground. Or in a rabbit pose it could help (while you pull your belly button and hips up towards the ceiling) to push the top of your feet and your knees into the floor.

The floors resistance makes it actually easier to move away from it… if you use it. By realizing how helpful resistance could be, you could use resistance to get more benefits from your yoga practice and to make it feel better.    

With regard to resistance within the body, we can often move it to a more helpful place. For example, if you feel a lot of resistance in your shoulders during the bikram half moon pose, it could help to activate your leg and abdominal muscles more. In fact, you thereby shifting the resistance from too much compression in the shoulders towards your core, where it does much more for you.


Mental resistance in yoga postures

Resistance in something we are usually facing in many kind of areas. Also mentally. Just think about how often we have resistance to yoga postures that are actually very good to become for us to more balanced. For example to heal an injury. Or to become more stronger or flexible, exactly where we need it the most. But as long as one is not approaching those yoga posture as their friend, it becomes difficult to focus on how the yoga postures could help you and to explore these opportunities.

Hereby the resistance actually could help because it gives you a clue where to start looking for progression in your yoga practice. Whether that is mental or physical. To explore how you could feel more union within the postures, within yourself. Is there another lens to look through? For example, I used to think about dolphin pose "that's way too heavy". One of my yoga teachers then suggested me to think about the sounds of a dolphin – the animal –,  which only creates positive thoughts for me. Thereby it way easier to focus on what I can do, instead of what I can’t do yet, which helps to become stronger and stronger over time.    

Especially those positive thoughts are important. To be more precise, the conversion from negative thoughts to positive ones. Because where you focus on, will grow. So the more you focus on resistance, the more resistance you get. On the other hand, if you transform your perspective to a positive view, more positive effects could be manifested (with even less effort). So it working more smart.

Working from something you already have (and adding-on) is easier that to start from nothing. For example, I use my perseverance to build up more strength. Which mental characteristics and virtues are available to you that could help you when resistance kicks in?

Camel pose is a typical yoga posture where many people feel resistance. While teaching I have often noticed that it could then be helpful to first go back all the way to where you don’t experience any resistance. This might for example only be 25% of the depth of what you used to be doing. From there it becomes easier to start working with your breath. To create more space and expansion with your breath: at your inhale lift your sternum (forward and) up. As soon as you can continue to focus on creating space and expansion (instead of on resistance), the depth comes back almost automatically (and probably even becomes more in the long run). And it will help you to stay longer in the posture and thereby to receive more benefits from your practice.


Using resistance off-the-mat

Also off the mat, you could work with the resistance you’re facing. By approaching it as something that tries to create space, new opportunities. For a positive thing trying to come into being. This too is working with the resistance in the opposite direction.

For me, it helps to perceive challenging situations as mirrors. Especially if I perceive resistance, I could know that there still is some healing work to do. Like the mirrors is the yoga room show us where we could work on in our yoga postures, experiences show us how we perceive and where we could do our yoga work off-the-mat.

Depending on the situation, this doesn’t have to be applicable directly. Often it helps me to wonder when I remember to have felt like this for the first time in my life; to understand why I am triggered. In order to let it go afterwards, I often use the healing method Ho'oponopono. And a lot of meditation with just sitting with my emotions.


Personally, last year I experienced resistance as a way to invite me to stand up for myself, to accept myself more completely. It was not about what was being said (because looking back there was not really something to be upset about), but about what it made me feel. That instead of looking for approval, I may accept that I choose a different path, a different way. That not everybody has to understand me. That trying to convince someone is creating obstructive resistance. That I don’t have to choose for someone else’s path, just like another person doesn’t have to walk my path. That this will help me to accept another part of me. And that I will accept everybody and where they are more. Accepting that taking responsibility for this could also have potential consequences (but trusting that it will be for the good in the long run). As long as it is on its way to creation, acceptance and light. On the way to self-realization ....

What if we would never experience resistance? Probably I would still be the same as before. I wouldn’t have faced these inner processes. In that case, it would have been way more difficult to take the next step towards more connection, union and self-realization. For me, resistance works as a reminder. To let us make a move, now or in the future. A reminder for that the contrast is inviting me to something better; to up-level. And also that contrast makes us appreciate the good stuff, to feel more gratitude.


YogaHabits tools to transform resistance into something good

  • How could you create more space where you feel resistance at the moment?
  • Could you move the resistance to a place where it is more functional?
  • How could you perceive the resistance as a mirror instead of something that happens to you?
  • How could you perceive the situation differently? What is a different lens to look through? How does this insight help you? What characteristic or virtue do you already have that could be helpful if resistance kicks in? How would it feel if you use that tool?
  • What could you do to feel more connection, light, union and freedom (on and off the yoga mat)?
  • Use a healing method such as Ho'oponopono


Enjoy your Habits© today with love and light!


Aimée Kuntz


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