If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius.Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
At the risk of being too personal, I thought I would share with you one slightly icky fact about myself. And that is I tend to have sweaty hands and feet.
But this doesn’t really mean much to you unless I’m nervous and we shake hands (which I know we wouldn’t be doing right now because #coronavirus, which OMG….another post for another time).
Anyway, the reason I wanted to share this with you is less about you being grossed out when we hypothetically shake hands and more about my yoga practice.
I should probably back up a little….
About a year ago I bought a new mat from the studio where I go for my yoga classes. My old one I had bought at Target a million years ago and was literally falling to pieces and leaving behind little bits of material after every class. Plus it wasn’t that cushy and made my knees hurt when we were doing poses on the floor.
Side Note: For those of you unfamiliar with the benefits of using a yoga mat, it provides some cushion for your joints as well as little bit of insulation between the body and the ground. Most importantly though, a yoga mat provides stability and helps you keep your hold strong on the surface thanks to its anti-slipping nature.
So as I rolled out my new mat for the first time, I was super excited and felt like I was one of the cool kids. Which then lasted for approximately two and a half minutes. The problem was that my mat hadn’t been broken in yet. And rather than holding strong in my first down-dog, I felt less like an empowered warrior and more like a greased pig.
The song Slip Slidin’ Away comes to mind.
Anyway, after a few days of frustrating practices, I asked the Google if it had any tips for making my new mat less slippy and more grippy. And in case you were curious here were some of the suggestions:
- Leave it out around the house to get walked on
- Place it outside in the sun for a few days
- Rub it down with water and salt
- Be humble and enjoy the process of breaking in your new mat
Since yoga is generally quite humbling enough for me, I tried the other suggestions with zero success. So after another “humbling” week on my mat, I went back to the owner of the studio, explained my situation, and asked for a refund. To which she kindly responded, “have you ever tried using a yoga towel on your mat?” and offered me one to try out during class. One of the other gals who was standing nearby chimed in that she has exceptionally sweaty hands and feet as well, and using a yoga towel made a huge difference in her practice.
So I gave the yoga towel a try, and as promised, it was a game changer. Not only could I now hold my down-dogs, lunges, and warriors (oh my!), I didn’t have to stop every few minutes to dry my hands off (something I even had to do occasionally on my old mat). Fast-forward almost a year later and my towel is still working out great. And the grip and stability really kick in once I work up a little bit of a sweat from warming up and getting into our flow, or series of postures.
I know you’re probably bored to tears now hearing about my yoga mat, but the reason I am sharing all of this with you is because a few weeks ago I had a revelation during yoga class. We were mid-flow, practicing our transition between Warrior II and Half-Moon. Which has always been a bit tricky for me since it requires a good deal of effort, balance, and more importantly, a fair degree fearlessness. Anyway, I decided to really go for it without the little baby-hop in the middle like I usually do. Even if I looked stupid and stumbled or fell. And so aided by the grip of my towel, I took a deep breath, then I pushed off with my back leg, leaned forward, and landed seamlessly into half-moon pose.
It was thrilling and I felt totally empowered. And the revelation was that having that extra grip, or resistance, helped me to push off and flow more powerfully.
I thought about that class and its revelation all the way home. And it really spoke to me because my One Little Word® this year is FLOW.
I came to the word FLOW because last year I had so many ideas and plans that I wanted to accomplish. And yet, most of the year I felt completely stuck and frustrated by my lack of progress. So this year my goal is to make progress. To move. To get out of my own way and get shit done.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and the growth of our soul.Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
So what does that have to do with my yoga mat you ask? Well for me it was a reminder that resistance is part of the creative life. Fear? Self-doubt? Procrastination? I know them well. They are my three constant, personal companions on this journey. But after that class, the question to myself was, what if I could see resistance differently? Rather than seeing it as a “block” or negative force, what if I saw resistance as something to push off of to help me grow and do the things I want to do?
I will tell you that just like my grippy towel, this revelation has been a game changer. In the past few weeks I have pushed through some of my roadblocks and made some serious progress on some of my big plans. In practice this looked filming myself taking photos out in public, learning how to edit videos, and installing a LMS system on my website.
Yep. Getting shit done. And it feels GOOD.
If you feel stalled out or frustrated when it comes to any sort of personal endeavor – creative or otherwise – I highly recommend Steven’s book. It’s an inspirational kick in the pants! But more importantly, I also want to encourage you to listen to your heart. Because that small voice is calling you to something that is yours alone. So fight for it. Because you need to do it. And the world needs whatever it is you need to do.