Tag Archives: control freaks

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 11: Expend Energy Wisely


Welcome to Day 11 of my ongoing 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 ambition is to keep the posts to less than 500 words.

Let’s do this.

December 6 — Remember to give your attention to what is worthy of it. If you care about nothing, your life will be lonely. Of you care about everything, you will live in a perpetual state of upset. Just for today, can you find the perfect balance between involvement and detachment?


So when I started teaching yoga, I wanted to hit every note, not miss any cue, be the perfect teacher and never screw up. Not surprisingly, this was MY very first quote I read to the class. I supposedly picked it at random, but we know how the Universe works, don’t we?

In those early classes, I was so busy worrying about being 100% that I attained maybe 70% of what I was aiming to do. In any one given class, I forgot to mention:

  • to select focal points for balance poses
  • to encourage people to feel their breaths
  • to bask in the moment of repose after a series
  • to mirror (use my left side when proposing the right for the students)
  • to turn off the lights (on one of my very last classes!) during svasana

I felt my classes suffered. Did they? People kept coming. So I guess the classes didn’t suffer. But here I am focusing on what I didn’t do… what about what I did do:

  • I am a stickler for form and alignment (people can get hurt)
  • I laugh at myself
  • I encourage others to smile (people take yoga very seriously)
  • I cut myself a break: I will always screw up; the world won’t end
  • I learn from each class I teach

Do you care about nothing and are bored? Apathy is a real bummer for the rest of us who happen to like things. No one wants to be around apathy. It’s like a snotty teenager who simply can’t be bothered to be bothered.

This is apathy:

anyone? anyone?

anyone? anyone?


Do you find yourself thinking too much about everything? Recycling, global warming, famine, Justin Bieber, addiction, corruption, open carry, American Idol, traffic, barking dogs, laundry, Sarah Palin, feeling unseen and unheard, cancer … (does any of this sound familiar from yesterday’s post?) and not devoting yourself and your energy to what really matters to YOU? Your spirit, your sense of Self, your boundaries, your values, your goals, your DREAMS?

This is someone who’s too involved:

mr. sidious.

mr. sidious.

Here’s me: CARE ABOUT YOUR DREAMS! get back on that bus! Remember what you love! Attract that back to your life and it will come! I can’t remember who said it, but it’s very profound: Watch your thoughts for they become words; Watch your words for they become actions; Watch your actions for they become character; Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

If you think about sadness and being overwhelmed and things that piss you off all the time, you won’t have room for thinking about the things you can change: you.

The only thing you can really change anyway is: you.

Your attitude toward things, your involvement with shit that REALLY doesn’t matter (oh my gosh! so much doesn’t matter! oy! it’s all ego traps!), any attraction to chaos and drama and how utterly depleting it is.

Right now: decide to dedicate your thoughts and energy to things that pay you back with kindness.

Take a deep breath, right now. I’ll wait.

Keep going, sit up tall, shoulders back and down, open the chest… and let it all in…


Now let it out, SLOWLY.

Now feel it, the release (’cause it’s there!) and ask: What really matters? Wait for the response (sometimes it’s nothing…) How can I effect my involvement in that? If your answer is “nothing,” then that means get involved in nothing: No Thing… How does that feel? Does it scare you to be involved in NO THING for one day? Hmm. Maybe consider the possibility that you’re control-oriented.

Now do it/the nothing.

Don’t like drama? Speak softer and encourage everyone to as well.

Don’t like fighting? Walk away and come back when you’re cooler.

Don’t like sad memories and focusing on what hurts? Here’s a twist: Don’t fight them, let them in… because when you do that, when you let them in, they can process themselves. Think of it as someone at US Customs… if you don’t process them, they stay at Customs all day… do you want that? No ’cause then you gotta feed ’em and put ’em up in a hotel… Accept and process your stuff, then it can go.

Thank you.

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 10: Insecurity & Control


Welcome to Day 10 of my 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 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:

February 23 — Insecurity leads to more attempts to control. We feel insecure when we forget our connection to ourselves. Then we feel afraid and try to control everything around us. Instead, spend five minutes today sitting quietly, focusing on elongating your exhalation; it is the breath of letting go.

Then spend the rest of your life getting with the program. Because that is the art of living: letting shit go.

One of my favorite breathing exercises in yoga is to breathe in for a count of five and then gradually extend exhale after the first breath, to a count of 12. It’s the same amount of breath coming in and going out, every time (well, actually it might be more as time elapses because the lungs adapt and stretch) but you are never releasing more air than you took in on the inhale.

When we deepen and extend the breaths, we are activating what’s known as the “parasympathetic nervous response” which is better known as “freak-out / stress” breaths, but it’s really the extended exhale that does it. I believe I’ve mentioned this before: cigarette smokers have that breath DOWN PAT. Just take away the cancer stick and they’d be good to go.

(My apologies to any smokers out there, I realize it’s an addiction; I also realize that you need to stop smoking.)

I don’t think I was ever really a “control freak.” I know that when I was younger, I wanted what was best for my mother, and that was usually at odds with what she wanted for herself, but I never organically controlled things. I remember throwing out her cigarettes and other things she occupied her time with that resulted in moments which scared me, so yes, I was afraid and tried to control things (1 point to Lasater); but as I grew up and matured, I have never attempted to influence an outcome after I realized it had zero to do with me.

That’s hard: focusing on yourself when you know you don’t want to. When you’d rather point the finger at other people whom you believe are acting like jerks.

When I was in PTA, I had to let just about everything go (which wasn’t hard) because I knew what I was good at and what I wasn’t good at. If stuff didn’t get done, the world wasn’t going to end. Letting things go also enabled me to see where others simply couldn’t and that taught me that when crap hit the fan with those people that it had nothing to do with me. Their white-knuckled grips on whatever was sifting through their hands was all they thought they had; it was their only stroke of relevance in the world and it wasn’t until I opened up my eyes and saw that life is so much grander and bigger than the things we “do” that I was freed.

One of the meditations I like to do with students at the end of a vigorous class is the “squeeze it all out and then let it all go” release: sit or lie back and think of everything that gets under your skin: global warming, famine, Justin Bieber, addiction, corruption, open carry, American Idol, traffic, barking dogs, laundry, Sarah Palin, feeling unseen and unheard, cancer … breathe, inhale again and tighten your fists, legs, butt, face, jaw, gut, back, thighs, toes, eyes… all of you and again, breathe…. and THEN: exhale and release it all and let it go.

So yeah, let it go. I encourage you to sit five minutes today thinking about something you absolutely can’t control. Go on, find a nice comfy chair and set a kitchen timer for five minutes. Then sit in the chair, take a big breath, let out the breath and sit there and realize that LGO (life goes on) with and without you.

Thank you.