Dear Homegrown Yogis,
Let me start this letter by telling you something about myself: I don’t have allergies. I know other people react to things like pollen and changes in season but not me. So when pollen started covering every surface a few weeks ago, many people started talking about their allergies. Coincidentally at that exact same time, my head got congested and my eyes started feeling itchy. While everyone was popping allergy meds and pulling out essential oils, however, I suffered in silence because I obviously don’t have allergies.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I was telling my wonderful friend and fellow yoga teacher – Holly – that I had been feeling miserable for a few weeks. I described my symptoms and then quickly said, “But I don’t have allergies.” Holly told me that she also doesn’t have allergies, but whenever there is a lot of pollen she takes these tiny pills once a day and she feels so much better =) So I thought if Holly doesn’t have allergies and does this, I might as well try these tiny pills too. And you know what? They made me feel better than I had in weeks.
You may have heard the expression – maybe even in one of my yoga classes – that “what we resist, persists.” The above personal anecdote clearly demonstrates that. I don’t acknowledge my allergies, and they don’t get better. But what about the less concrete parts of life? The strained relationship, the underlying tension at work, or even that nagging anxiety that keeps you up at night. If this expression holds true (as in the case of my non-existent allergies) ignoring these things not only won’t make them go away but it may also strengthen them.
In Baptiste Power Yoga, we are constantly encouraged to face our resistance in poses. Imagine staying in Warrior 2 for a really long time. If you’ve been to a class at the studio, you probably have no problem doing that! Now what likely happens after a few breaths is you begin building up physical resistance (tense shoulders, feet gripping the mat) and after a few more breaths mental resistance shows up (why are we still in this pose? I hate this class right now! I’m never doing yoga again!) If you ignore it, this resistance not only continues but probably will escalate. However once you acknowledge it, you step into your power because it’s in that exact moment that you can decide how to respond. You may not like being in that Warrior 2 any more than before, but in acknowledging your resistance you see that you have choices in the pose. You can choose to relax your shoulders and feet – you can choose to focus on your breath rather than your thoughts. Before acknowledging your resistance, you were stuck in it – there was no choice.
To me, it’s that ability to choose your response in a stressful moment (rather than be trapped in your resistance) that puts the “power” in Power Yoga. So yes, maybe I am slightly allergic to pollen. I don’t have to like that fact, but I now have the power to choose how I respond. And here’s what I choose – to take a little pill every now and then and still tell everyone that I have no allergies =)