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30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 16: How Do You Want To Grow?


Welcome one day late to Day 16 of my floundering blog series based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” We have 14 days to go and by golly, we will get there.

After I share the randomly chosen quote, I try to keep these posts to less than 500 words.

Here is the quote:

July 19 — Which do you want: the pain of staying where you are, or the pain of growth?



I am a day late and was just saying this morning to a friend over chat that I could really use a break from trying to Be Mindful all the freakin’ time. Sometimes I want to let my id run absolutely wild and take hostages.

If you told me one year ago, a week before I left for my yoga training retreat, that I’d go on an amazing week away with a cousin to North Carolina, that my mother would drop dead of cardiac arrest, that we’d have another dog, that I’d be teaching yoga, that we would endure the bullshit of crazy friends, that my father-in-law would succumb to complications of pancreatic cancer and the other thing I’m experiencing in my family (that I can’t talk about at the moment), that my son would would surround himself with truly amazing young men for friends (whom he met because he DIDN’T make the high school soccer team!), that my other son would be rational about confronting the backwards choices he’s made, that I’d grow closer with new people, and that I’d grown emotionally and spiritually in ways I could never have imagined through it all, I’dve told you to get your head examined.

I’d think: I don’t court this kind of energy, I don’t court growth in such extreme measures.

Apparently I do.

So which is it, dear reader?

Do we yearn for the duck-and-cover, wait for the “all-clear” from someone else to emerge into the dusty, hazy tormented remains, step out onto the shattered glass and shrapnel in our bare feet and grow that way?

Or do we watch the forecast, see what’s coming, do our best to fortify against it in order to experience it: put on battle gear, to withstand and grow?

The best yoga pose, as far as I’m concerned which exemplifies confronting, withstanding, maintaining and empowering is Virabradrasana II, “Warrior II”:

unfortunately, this doesn't show my back leg, but you can see that it's all about personal power, this pose.

unfortunately, this doesn’t show my back leg, but you can see that it’s all about personal power, this pose.

The reason this pose is so evocative to me, and to countless others, of empowerment is because it’s hard to do and also because every action in the body in that pose is all about steadiness, power and strength and awareness.

It’s hard to know where to start talking about what’s “most” influential in this pose because like all challenges and opportunities in life, each one affects each person differently. I’ll start at the feet and then bounce around: the position of the feet is established from mountain pose, when your feet are a comfortable hip-width apart and the line between the feet is parallel. From there, one foot goes back — at that same “gait” width apart so the balance is assured, and the big toe of that back foot is turned about 30˚ toward the front.

Pause a second: People ask, “how far apart should my feet be?” a lot. I like to say, “as is comfortable for you.”

For me, I usually place my ankles directly below my wrists as my arms are extended. But as you lunge forward, the wrist will extend beyond the ankle.

Shoulders engage, squeezing toward one another. Why? Ask any warrior if they have a better chance of being ready if their shoulders are loosey-goosey. Doing this with the shoulders starts to activate the core. Then you pull the navel in toward the spine, again bringing awareness to the core, the back straightens up… it just does. Then you turn your head toward the direction of the forward-facing hand (the one that is above the forward facing foot) and the fingertips are reaching behind you and in front of you. I like to say to the kids I teach, “pretend you’re shooting lasers from your fingers.”

As you exhale, bend the forward-facing leg to a lunge (keeping the forward-facing bent knee either within or above the front toes, not going beyond them and the tracking of that knee above the foot, not caving in toward the inner thigh or wrenching out toward the outer thigh). All of this is fruitless of course, without pressing the outer side of the back foot into the mat, raising the arch of your back foot which activates the calf of that back leg.

Next, you turn your head to stare beyond, but set upon the direction of your forward hand’s fingertips. Both palms are facing the floor.

What’s your torso doing? It’s not leaning forward, “like a hood ornament” (snort!) as my teacher says. It is ready, not on the offense, not on the defense either: just saying, “HERE I AM. Let’s do this.”


Now here’s the ironic part of this pose: while you’re looking all bad-ass, facing forward, eyes steeled for the storm, the POWER of it all actually comes from that foundation foot and leg in the back. If that back leg is “all whatevs” about this pose, you’re toast and you’re not ready for growth.

There is no “all whatevs” in this pose. Not in the least.

If you start to think about other things, you will lose the integrity of the pose. So, Lasater is right in terms of growing. Do you want to grow in Warrior II as you experience it: monitor your legs, check in with your breath, feel any tension in your jaw (which absolutely happens) or do you want to take longer to grow, lose the pose, lose the power of it and the lessons it teaches you about endurance and your own character and end up trying again and again to get it solid?

So you just hang out here for about five or so steady and deep breaths to start and add more breaths as you gain strength. You will gain strength quickly with this pose (mentally for certain). Soon your front thigh will start barking.

To come out of the pose, on an exhale: gracefully lower your hands, straighten the front leg, and bring your BACK foot up to meet your front foot. Take a couple breaths and then reverse to the other side where the front leg now goes back and your gaze extends beyond the fingertips of the opposite arm.

This was a long post. It’s hard for me to talk about Warrior II and not get a little carried away by it; it’s my go-to, check-in-with-myself asana; I suspect that’s because I’ve learned to be ready for anything these days.

Thank you.


30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 12: Self Empathy, Bullying


Welcome to Day 12 of my blog series based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” While the book has 365 quotes, I picked only 30.

My goal is to stay close to 500 words excluding the quote.

Let’s go…

December 13 — Cultivating empathy for myself will change the world. Hold yourself gently today, offer yourself empathy and you will create a space inside for compassion to arise. When compassion arises, act from that space.

I didn’t want to talk about the bullying crap my son and then family endured this spring, but this quote lends itself to that situation (purely from my point of view by the way), plus I have a small update about it. The update is that the husbands met for coffee about a month after it all began and the aggressor’s intention was explained. That’s all well and good: you expressed your intention. That really doesn’t matter because what ended up happening was action, not intention and the whole thing blew up because of one reason or another (maybe it was supposed to) and you can’t un-ring a bell. My kids are pissed.

The meeting went fine, no “pistols at dawn” but I remain fixed in my opinion (as well as the opinion of countless other friends and family elders) that I must always put my kids first, be an example against oppression and harassment (no matter where it comes from) and stay the course, because no matter how you slice this watermelon, I was never heard.

I can do the math. Her subconscious (read: out of touch or denied) fears and motivations were more important than returning the respect I gave to her.

My wishes, for mutual respect between the kids on the bus, and parental oversight of any shenanigans, then after that went pear-shaped, for distance and for peace, were ignored. The other parent HAD to get after me, she couldn’t simply leave me alone for a month. She ignored me, and then, she offered a bullshit, back-handed apology that took a while to sink in (because I was conditioned as a child to take responsibility for shit that wasn’t mine), but which I realized I don’t have the energy to dance around her conditions of what is an isn’t acceptable behavior in a world where double-standards thrive. I’ve spent too much money on couch time to poop all over what I’ve learned just because one person can’t hold her verbal bladder.


What this situation has to do with the quote is quite simple for me: I chose to be gentle to myself and as such, I didn’t blow up in her face on the day she frantically confronted me for a talk and to offer her garbage apology. I walked, I was calm, I listened. I built empathy for myself even though there was NONE coming from the other person (as established by her inability to sit still and learn from all this for 30 consecutive days). And that empathy created compassion, just as Lasater suggests, and I was able to walk away with kindness and very little anger.

So in order for me to treat her with empathy, because I’ve been there: I’ve been the frantic, please-forgive-me-I-didn’t-mean-it-but-you’re-a-screw-up-too person on the other end begging for a remission of the pain, of the guilt and of the regret (because I couldn’t stand it, so the apology was more about me feeling better not the person I hurt), I had to remember what it felt like to be her and then cultivate empathy in myself which became compassion for her.

Here’s a clue: IT’S NOT EASY! It requires fathoms of self-awareness and I’m only 5′ 5″.

I had to say, “Maaaan, she’s totally effed-up inside with something that has nothing to do with me, so I need to let this go so I don’t say anything I regret…” and yet I did say something I sort of regret, but not regrettable: I said it was OK. Because it sort of was OK, but I didn’t mean that it was OK forever. I told her I loved her, which I did and still do. My version of love doesn’t look like how she’d likely prefer it: it’s not all warm and fuzzy. It’s tough love: I love her (me — empathy, friends!) enough to stay the hell away from her and let her sort out her own shit and not involve me in it because I promise you this: I will be a complete nightmare if we got involved again and she pulled crap like this again — which she will until she gets her control issues and self-relevance baggage straightened out.

Now, almost three months later, I can see that it was one of those situations where she was so desperate for my attention (I believe) or some form of resolution, no matter how premature, that she simply didn’t care about whether it jacked up everything. And it did.

(How’d we already get to 650 words?!)

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 1.29.16 PM

So I’ll wrap it up with this: if you can’t hold yourself gently and offer yourself empathy: to understand or remember the feeling of shoes your person or the world is wearing, you’re not going to be in a place of kindness; you’re going to be reactive, and likely hostile, and the energy is going to be false and stagnant.

Only inertia exists in a vacuum; if you want to move forward, with anyone, you have to allow yourself to feel something close to what they’re feeling. Conversations can’t be all finger-pointing; there is no resolution. Ever.

Thank you.




30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 6: Are You Lovable? Yes…


Welcome to Day 6 of my sort of -new blog series. This series is based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” While the book has 365 quotes, I picked only 30.

I chose the dates in the waiting room of my kids’ dentist. I rolled dice and arbitrarily chose dates based on the numbers that showed up with each roll of the dice.

I also had the pleasure of sitting with a Turkish grandmother who didn’t speak any English. We managed to communicate in a female, maternal way that transcended any real words. I used a “bee buzz” sound to describe my middle son, a steady hand / ocean wave motion to describe my youngest and oldest sons and then we “spoke” effusively about the World Cup. “Keeek! Keeek ball! Futbol!”

I will try to keep these posts to less than 500 words. (These words don’t count — ha ha, nor does the quote.)

Here is the quote:

June 6 — Am I lovable? How I answer this question will affect me every day. Today when you live your life (and especially as you relax), do your best to to remind yourself that you are the product of the love of the Universe. See this in yourself and see it in others throughout the day.


A lot of these quotes are bringing me back to my early therapy days. I went into therapy because I was very confused and angry. I also went because I was terrified that I would become toward my children what my mother was toward me. My mother was a deeply complicated and brilliant woman who had many unresolved issues from her own childhood and she un?consciously foisted them on me (because I can only speak for myself). Most of her stuff could’ve been “solved!” with a lot of hard work and confrontation of some serious fears and resentments.

In her presence I remember feeling loved in the commercial sense but unloveable in the functional sense. I was dressed well, had the piano and violin lessons, the art school, the private education and all that, but I did not have the reliability or the selflessness that functional maternal people manifested. As a result, I also felt as though my mother were unlovable because simply, “you can not give what you do not have.”

Moving on…

My therapist said to me, when I spoke of how I felt in her presence: tired, nervous, depleted and sad, that those feelings were likely very much how she felt about herself. That I was an antennae and she was a projector so that when she accused me of something unsuitable, it was actually how she felt about herself but didn’t have the self-awareness or the courage to admit it of herself.

You can feel it with certain people: if they come at you at 90mph (I used to be like that in my 20s and 30s) as a friend, chances are they work for Amway or they are really wanting you to love them because they lack it internally.

Remember what we hear so often on Valentine’s Day and at weddings:

can you do this? with YOURSELF first?

can you do this? with YOURSELF first?

Let’s take weddings and Valentine’s Day out of this, because really: there’s a ton of divorce out there and I suspect it’s likely because lots of people have this idea of what love looks like but really have no sense of how it feels. It’s hard, but can you be kind, open-minded, protective, patient, modest, supportive, honorable, temperate, enduring? Especially with yourself? Because that’s where it HAS to start. You can not give what you do not have.

All those things in Corinthians?? That’s A LOT! Can you work on it? Can you be one of those things every once in a while and try to be more as time goes on? Can you own your shit and not hold grudges? If you’re a silent treatment-er, you have work, a lot of work to do. Get off my bus. That crap does NOT fly in the adult world. (I digress…)

When you plant a seed of love, it is you that blossoms.
–Ma Jaya Sati

That’s what I think is the human embodiment of love: the ability to see these amazing attributes and want to be them and then: share them. It’s like a great mood: when you’re in that zone, you SHINE, baby. If we can do this with just our tribe and then share it with the gal who bags our groceries or the crazy driver in front of us, we are on our way. We are all lovable. We were made of love (even if our parents had no idea what they were doing, it was the cosmic math, the love of God, source, Universe, that decreed our existence, so we are LOVE).

We are lovable when we are able to love. I have this cousin, Allison, who is like a cauldron of love. She snorts like I do, and she hugs in the most amazing way (I could really use one right now — I miss my mom) and she forgives in the true sense: with self-love first. She gets me, the poor thing, but I see how to love better, because of her. (Don’t mind me, *sniff* there’s something in my eye.)

Be the love to yourself and then you’ll be very lovable. You will have your love shield on.

One breath at a time, baby.

Thank you.

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 4: Laugh More


Welcome to Day 4 of my still-new blog series. This series is based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” While the book has 365 quotes, I picked only 30.

I chose the dates in the waiting room of my kids’ dentist. I rolled dice and arbitrarily chose dates based on the numbers that showed up with each roll of the dice.

I also had the pleasure of sitting with a Turkish grandmother who didn’t speak any English. We managed to communicate in a female, maternal way that transcended any real words. I used a “bee buzz” sound to describe my middle son, a steady hand / ocean wave motion to describe my youngest and oldest sons and then we “spoke” effusively about the World Cup. “Keeek! Keeek ball! Futbol!”

I will try to keep these posts to less than 500 words. (These words don’t count — ha ha, nor does the quote.)

Here is the quote:

January 4 — Laugh more. Children laugh dozens of times a day. Laughing decreases blood pressure and relieves tension. Find something funny in your life today and laugh at it. Better yet, find something about yourself to laugh at.


I laugh at least a few dozen times a day. My kids are hilarious and the dogs are too. The way Charlie goes after our cat makes me belly laugh. He jumps around the house like PePe LePew, “ga-doink, ga-doink, ga-doink…”

I have taken up wearing ear plugs to sleep now. It has happened. My husband snores while he “sleeps.” It’s really hard on me.

Our bedroom door is also very noisy. It’s like all the door jambs on the entire second floor of our house were lined with fly paper; there’s always the top of a door riding along the frame or another door sticking or a door knob jamming. Of all the bedroom doors, I feel ours is the most annoying. It’s one of those “French-like door” assemblies: two solid doors; one has the peg that fits into the frame when you slide it up (but it doesn’t always stay up because, gravity, so it’s a pain) and then the other door that is supposed to fit all nice and snug.

Have I mentioned that it’s summer here? The doors stick extra tight when it’s summer. Because Virginia.

So I’m prepping for sleep. It’s about 11pm. I have my ear plugs in because my husband’s William Tell Overture has begun. I’m out in less than five minutes.

The door to our room bursts open, but not until both doors swing loose; one bangs into my dresser, the other hits the hamper. Lights are out, everywhere except the hallway behind the doors, so in blasts the sun because my middle son walks into the doors, says very loudly (but mostly unintelligibly because I have my ear plugs in), “I’M NOT FEELING WELL I THINK I’M GONNA BARF…” to which I bolt upright and say, “WHAT? EAR PLUGS!” I pull my plugs out of my ears, Sir Snoresalot is still going strong as a door swings back so wildly it smacks my son in the face.

He turns around. I’m still getting ear plugs out of my ears (but trying not to lose them). At this point, I’m a little mad that Dearest is still snoring. So I am extra loud. “DID YOU SAY YOU FEEL SICK? THEN GO BARF IN THE TOILET. WHAT CAN I DO?”

Thing 2 does one of two things every time he’s unwell in the middle of the night: He either blasts into my room with the announcement, as he just did, or he pukes all over his bed, walls and carpeting. It never really quite makes it into the toilet.

“That was cold,” said my husband. “Why don’t you go after him?”

I explained that I would, but that I was looking for my ear plugs. I was half awake still, despite all the chaos. I follow T2 into the bathroom after growling at my husband to “see if there is anything I can do.” T2’s not there. He’s gone back to bed. He’s already asleep. Feeling better.

I stumble back our room, knocking into the loose door and attempting (extra loudly) to reset it.

>Yawn, stretch.<

>Flop on bed. Reinsert ear plugs.<

Twenty minutes later, our youngest tinkers with the door like a Nixon apprentice at Watergate and rambles into our room. He is ten.




“No. Ear plugs. Tap me three times if you’re sick. Once if you’re scared.”

. . . . . Tap. . . . .

“Lie down on the floor. I don’t want to talk. Your brother just woke us up about 20 minutes ago. Just lie down. Whatever scared you isn’t real. It was just a bad dream.”

. . . . . . Tap. . . .Tap. . . . . .

“I didn’t give you two taps as a choice. What? Wait. Earplugs. …”

I remove my ear plugs. I search the darkness. He was kind. He did not turn on the sun before entering my room.

“Mom. I have a confession to make.”

“Oh honey, it can wait. Unless the house is on fire. Then it can’t wait.”

“I was on the computer downstairs and I went on youTube … I saw some … ”

“Wait. Dan. Dan. >nudge HISS nudge< Wake up. I think you need to be awake…He’s talking about a confession and youTube…”

>stir rumble stir … groan rumble stir<

“Yeah bud? What’s up? Mom said you have a confession…”

“I was on youTube and I saw something. I know I should have asked you first. I know that you said to not go on youTube without your permission, but I was so curious. I had to look and I saw this … laptop that I want. I clicked ‘LIKE’ on the video and now I’m afraid I bought it! I am afraid you’re going to get … SPAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAAMMMM! I’M SO SORRRRRRREEEEEY…”

>snarf, sniffle sniffle snarf.<

He’s such a sweetie. They all are. My boys are not perfect but they are very tender people still. Even the 16-year-old investment banker.

We had a little chat about the youTube rule (because the last thing we want him to think is that we have no idea of what he “likes”) and explained that he didn’t buy the computer and that he wasn’t in trouble. He did end up staying on the space on my side of the bed though.

I know that one day I will miss these little intrusions. Soon enough they will be off and in college, stumbling into some other door jamb and barfing in the back of their friends’ car or at a fraternity house.

So that’s how my evening went the other night. I did eventually get back to sleep, but not before 12:30.

I hope that made you laugh a little. If not, go laugh some more.

Thank you.