Wobblyogi Wednesday – Book Club Notes #4

Hello, Everyone!

Our adventure in self-study through reading Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga continues. How is reading going for you? What are you asking yourself? Finding any surprising answers?

If you’re not reading the book but just checking in with the blog….. perfect. That’s what this blog series is for. This effort is less about the book more about asking ourselves questions about what irks us and how can we limit those small and big irritations.

The first part of the book was about awareness within and addresses themes of discipline, letting go, faith, perspective and more. Part two is about how yoga helps with our relationships with others and the world. Judith Lasater talks about compassion, control, fear, and patience. One of the reasons I love her book is her constant reference to motherhood and stories related to her children. Using yoga principles to guide our role as moms, for me really resonates.


As a parent, I have often wrestled with what it means to be compassionate toward my children…………..I have learned that the most compassionate response I can have is to be willing not to judge their behavior, but to try to see the situation from their point of view. This does not mean that I forfeit my opinion on the most effective course of action they might choose. Rather I have the intention to truly feel the situation from their narrow views, thus stepping back from my own narrow views.

What! Not judge the behavior of my children! Isn’t that my job? My interpretation of what she is saying is this: really listen to what they are saying, repeat back to make sure I understand their perspective, “so you are saying that you really need to go the party because all your other friends will be there and your the acceptance of your friends is very important to you”….or something like that and then I offer my opinion about why that request or feeling has multiple considerations attached like, “Did you do your homework?” “Do you need a ride”, “is it on a school night?” and maybe “why is the acceptance of this group of friends so important”, etc. Compassion may not alter my expectations as a mom, but it can help me see the issue from my kid’s perspective. I’ll try.

Do you judge yourself if a yoga pose doesn’t look “perfect”? Can I be compassionate with my own body and its abilities? Allow my left knee to crunch without judgment?


Who among us hasn’t been accused of being controlling, particularly when it comes to our kids? Here is Lasater’s advice:

Dr. Rosenberg explained that if you coerce your child into doing something, you will pay a price. For example, even if you could exert enough control to make him take out the garbage, he would make you pay for getting your way…. If we try to control the behavior of others, we may get what we want but we won’t enjoy it. If we have the thought that we are making someone do what we want without eliciting their true cooperation, that control is the greatest of illusions.

What to do if the other’s behavior is self-destructive? If they are not invested in their own well-being, ultimately I, as a mom can’t sustain control over them. That is truly difficult to accept.  She later addresses this issue by writing,

But where does letting go of control end and taking responsibility for my life begin? We must understand (and accept) what it is exactly that we can control and what we cannot control. In the final analysis, we can control only ourselves. But we are often dismayed at our inability to master even this. What prevents us? When we feel out of control, it is usually when there is a conflict between what we think and what we feel. Our feelings may scream one thing while our minds demand something else.

I try to be realistic and honest about what I can do and what I can’t in relation to my kids and others. I feel, if I hear and try to understand my kids, they, in turn, hear me better too. They may not like my preferences as I may not like theirs, but being open about what we can do individually helps us in being compassionate with each other. My beautiful and talented dancer daughter understands that loud noise and big crowds are overwhelming for me and doesn’t insist on my presence throughout all her dance competitions (of course she wants me to see her dance, as I do but she understands if I don’t stick around). I let go of the fear that my daughter might see my limitation as a lack of care. If we scratch deeper we always find either love or fear. Laster appropriately continues the next section on the topic of fear.

On the yoga mat, when I am overthinking a pose, I know I’m trying to control. Alignment cues are directions, not destinations. Yoga is not a “follow the leader” kind of activity. My role as a teacher is to stand a guide and demonstration with my body, my abilities, and limitations. I also have to accept however a student interprets and acts on my guidance, as long as he or she doesn’t hurt themselves. What is the difference between correction and control?


The most interesting thing that Lasater says about fear for me was that if you are really living the present moment there is no fear. And, if you say “I am afraid,” admit and name the emotion, fear loosens its grip. I’ve tried this when afraid to drive on icy roads and found it helped me find ease. About being present and unafraid she writes,

If you are involved in actually fighting for your life, there is no time to be afraid. The sympathetic nervous system is mobilizing you to run or attack, and your bodily functions are working full blast. For example, the eyes open wider to see the danger better, blood is shunted to the muscles so that you can use them in the fight, and the mind becomes completely focused in the immediate need at hand. Your nervous system is not distracted by thinking in the abstract about what may happen. Rather, it is dealing with what is happening. It is only when you think about what may happen or what could have happened that you feel afraid.

Fear is, unfortunately, a standard and inevitable mom-emotion. It is challenging to find the balance between fear and love. I try not use my fears as an emotional weapon to limit the growth of my children. There is a difference between saying “please lock the front door” and “never go out.” Caution and fear. Instead of hoping that nothing bad ever happens to them, I hope they cultivate the strength to recover from anything. This takes practice and trust.

When I practice crow pose, I’ll bring a bolster or block in front of me to allow my head to come down. Somehow that eases the fear that I’ll come tumbling forward.



Patience is another absolutely required parental skill. My favorite part was when she talked about our concept of “wasted time.” I am guilty of considering most of my day as “wasting time.” Lasater’s explanation struck a nerve for me when she talked about impatience arising out of a feeling of wasting time as associated with a fear of being devalued. The thought that – I could be doing better things than sitting in traffic, doing the laundry, waiting in line –  etc  is a symptom of feeling “I’m not doing enough.”  Lasater explains it better:

What is really wasted? Nothing. All gives me the opportunity to live in the present moment. When I do, I am patient. This realization supports even the most mundane events of my daily life. I can wait in lines, sit in traffic jams, and understand when someone is late for an appointment. All of these times – waiting, sitting, and understanding – are valuable. I can choose not to experience them as wasted time by choosing to be present and actually live these precious moments. After all to reject them is to reject life itself………..

Beneath my “time-wasting” thoughts was the most startling realization of all. I was afraid. You see, my self-worth was so tied to how much I accomplished. I thought that if I could speed up things around me, then I could get more done. If I did that, then I would be more valued, therefore more loved, therefore happier.

The next time I’m waiting in the school parking lot for my daughter to emerge, I’ll try to think of it as a practice in patience, and self-value. Waiting as mothering.

Maybe I can practice patience when in a forward fold, standing, seated and wide instead of judging my tight hamstrings.

For me, this section tugged at my mommy heart. What stood out for you? Was it teaching and control? Dealing with difficult people with compassion? Fear and anxiety about what we can’t control? How to accept control as an illusion?

I hope it was a good read for you. Looking forward to hearing your comments.

Happy reading Community Yoga Bookclub!




Wobblyogi Wednesday – Book Club Notes 2

Hello, fellow yogis engaged in self-study!

This week my notes are about the first 4 chapters of Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater.

Spiritual Seeking

Whether we seek something called spirituality, holiness, or enlightenment, the route to it is through our humanness, complete with our strengths and our weaknesses, our successes and our failures….

To practice yoga in the deepest sense is to commit to developing awareness by observing our lives: our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

In order to cultivate spirituality Lasater suggests the strategy of adopting an “abiding practice” in which we combine a pose (an action) with a mantra (a deliberate thought). For example, combine tadasana (mountain pose) and the mantra, “I commit to living my life fully at this moment.” If you have a particular spiritual direction, you can combine an action or asana with a short prayer. This way we bring in mindfulness to our actions. We abide and stay with the act instead of rushing to completion. I am particularly guilty of rushing through tasks I don’t enjoy like washing the dishes or folding laundry. Next time I’ll try to add a mantra and see if that helps me stay in the moment, maybe even appreciate the moment.


Do what you can do fully.

Patanjali describes this as abhayasa, which comes from the Sanskrit roots of abhi and as, and means literally “to apply oneself.” From this viewpoint, all of life is practice. Practice is not about what you get, it is about what you give. Whether you are driven or resistant, the medicine is the same: do what is truly possible with unwavering commitment to giving your self to the moment. Without this intention, practice becomes another task to be completed and it loses its ability to transform. And transformation, or freedom, is the reason for all discipline.

Lasater’s strategy to cultivate discipline involves making a list of things you want to do, choosing one and devoting 15 minutes, every day to that task, whether it is writing a book, meditating, blogging, playing an instrument or sewing. Honor your choice. After you have done this for a month, review yourself. How are you doing? How do you feel?

I unknowingly followed this technique when I started blogging. Small consistent steps. It became a habit, like my childhood journaling. And has led me to be more comfortable with my voice. I also tell myself “I have all the time to do what I want.” This reassurance helps me feel less rushed and behind. Discipline is certainly an area I continue to work through. I find I can focus on one intention at a time. For now, for me, it is writing every day. I would like to add meditation and yoga every day. I save that struggle in discipline for another time, soon.

Letting Go

Letting go involves cultivating perspective, a release of control and expectations.

Patanjali’s “detachment” beckons you to cultivate the willingness to surrender as you go along, right here and now, but not because you despair or are uninterested. On the contrary, detachment requires total engagement. When you allow yourself to see things as they really are, then– and only then– can you love yourself and others without hidden expectations. Detachment is the greatest act of love.

This is a familiar concept in many religions that require a submission to the divine, the relinquishing of the perception of control. When you find yourself struggling, Lasater’s advice for letting go is to shine a spotlight of awareness on the attachment, instead of trying to detach. This attention allows us to loosen our grip and weaken its power over us. Staying in the moment, without control and expectation, is a difficult task. Often when in a group, I will deliberately relinquish control of the situation, whether it be choosing the restaurant or a movie, for me prioritizing being together over asserting my want or authority helps. I try to notice when I want to interrupt a conversation or offer uninvited “help.” Especially as a mom, I find the balance between letting go and active direction difficult.


The grip of self-judgment can be suffocating. Yet, we are all guilty of it. I liked how Lasater explains the compulsion to self-judge as a form of egoism.

….there was no way that I could be harsh towards myself and, at the same time, be compassionate to others. I realized also that the process of silently putting myself down was actually a form of egoism.

If you expect more from yourself than from others, you are saying that you are better than others and , therefore, must perform at a superior level. I do not mean that you should not set goals for yourself. Rather, the quesiton is, how do you react if you cannot meet these goals?

Lasater suggests that as we engage in a difficult task, we tell ourselves “I am attempting something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying.” This way we release expectations and enjoy the process of learning or trying something new. She has other suggestions too, for example, taking a break from criticizing anyone, including ourselves for an hour a day.

During my day, I try to notice these topics and look for opportunities to use a few of these strategies. None of this is easy or automatic, I suppose that’s why yoga is a practice. A lot of practice.

How did you feel about the first four sections? What resonated with you? What practices do you find most difficult? Are there other strategies that work for you?

Excited to hear your thoughts,

the Wobblyogi

Wobblyogi Wednesday – Book Club Notes 1

Welcome to the yoga bookclub hosted by Community Yoga in Indiana!

Living Your Yoga – Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Lasater (Berkley, CA: Rodmell Press, 2000)

For more information on Judith Lasater herself and quick background, look up her website: http://www.judithhansonlasater.com/

[The notes relate to the first edition. I recently got the second edition and will note any significant changes. Her introduction to the second edition talks about the additions.]

If you have the book already in hand, let’s get started with the introduction where Lasater talks about how she came to yoga, how she understands yoga, how she “lives her yoga” and how she designed the book.

Here are a few passages and associated questions that resonated wih me and I can’t wait to hear which phrases, passages or ideas resonated with you.

Thought 1

Lasater talks about her experience in coping with childbirth, her background as a dancer and her “desire for a direct and personal relationship with divine,” as factors that led her to seek out and continue to practice yoga.

She writes, ” What I now know is that I had been seeking wholeness through integration of my body, my mind and my spirit.”

For us,we can ask,

What do I seek?

What brings me to yoga?

What makes me stay?

Thought 2

Laster’s yoga practice, she explains, responds to her search for wholeness.

…to practice is to pay attention to your whole life: your thoughts, your bodily sensations, and your speech and other actions. As you do, you will discover that nothing is separate from anything else. Thoughts are sensations of the mind just as sensations are the thoughts of the body. Each moment of your life is a moment of potential practice.

Practice, then, can be understood as a willingness to return to the reality of the very moment, that is, to observe with dispassion and clarity exactly what is — right now.

What is happening right NOW in my life? Why am I hosting a book club? Writing these words? What do I hope for my thoughts, feelings and sensations?

How do I connect to my own wholeness?

How do I connect to this very moment?

How do I connect with you my fellow readers?

Thought 3

After Lasater describes the structure of the book she concludes the introduction with a quote from Dag Hammarskjold, secretary general to the United Nations (1953-61):

In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.

She then asks us to “use this book in whatever ways best serve your needs. Living Your Yoga is my gift to you.”

What might be my road, my world of action?

How might I best use Lasater’s gift of  Living Your Yoga?

Here are my quick thoughts. What are yours? How might we bring these thoughts to our practice?

Let’s talk!

Let the book club begin!!

Anyone reading can join the conversation on this blog, just add your comments below. There is also a protected discussion platform. For a password and more information about the bookclub and April 1st workshop, go to:  https://communityyogalafayette.com/book-club/

Much love,

The Wobblyogi

My plan for offering notes to help us stay with the book is as follows:

January 13: Chapters 1-4
February 1: Chapters 5-7  (and additional chapter on relaxation)
February 15: Chapters 8-11
March 1: Chapters 12-14
March 15: Chapters 15-18 (and additional second edition chapter on empathy)
March 29: Chapters 19-21 (and additional second edition chapter on worship)
April 1: Book Club Workshop


Wobblyogi Wednesday – Patanjali 101, Week 3 Notes – Death

My favorite moment this week involved, Judith Lasater’s discussion of corpse pose, Savasana. Death. “By admitting death, Savasana teaches us how to live,” paraphrasing Lasater. She spoke about fully investing in our breath, intentions and movement as we practice asana so that we can let go during Savasana without restlessness.  Most poignantly for me, she connected the experience of corpse pose with our last moments. Will I have invested and lived fully enough to be at ease as I die? Will I be able to let go of my life without regret when the time comes?

The discussion reminded me of raising my girls. I had the privilege of being a full-time mom, even if distracted,  during their formative years. I find myself able to let go because I am comfortable with all the time we spent together as intentful and loving. I trust in our relationship. Maybe the practice of yoga is like nurturing and mothering my life , to build trust and to able to let go with ease when the time comes. Mortality becomes a reminder to live fully. Savasana becomes a reminder to move intently.

The second moment I enjoyed this week involved, Lizzie’s (and her mom’s) comparison between philosophers and yogis. “A philosopher watches the ocean, a yogi jumps into it.” Yoga demands engagement with life, at least in Hatha yoga. As a philosopher, I really like this comparison. I imagine, after watching for years, I got tired and found yoga to be my path towards wisdom beyond knowledge.

The third moment I want to mention is the discussion about whether “witness consciousness” makes us numb and indifferent. Lasater answered with a Kantian aesthetic condition of “disinterested interest” or in her words, “disinterested and fascinated.” For Kant, one can only judge beauty if it there is no ‘self’ interest in the judgment. Maybe,  yogic witness consciousness allows us to be aware without being subject to the intensity of emotional and physical strain.  It permits us to drop ‘self’ or ego-centric interest. Things are not happening TO me. They are just happening. Witness consciousness us to stay in the tension without trying to escape or wallow. Sometimes I call this my anthropologist research mode.

There are so many moments this week that made me think and wonder. Even the idea that vinyasa involves noticing the moments of linking, transition and change as accepting that life is ever-changing. This morning as I was teaching, I almost forgot a part of a sequence on the second side that involved moving from a high lunge, twisted high lunge, back to high lunge then stepping into a pyramid. As I started and noticed my oversight, I laughed and took a step back to recover. The 2 seconds and one step to recover my place seemed like a huge gap, a break in the flow. Despite my initial self-judgement and backward step, staying with the rhymic flow gave me an unanticipated ease the rest of the practice. As long as I keep moving forward (sometimes back) all is well.

May we all keep moving with ease (until it is time for the ultimate savasana).

Thank you, my fellow Patanjali readers.


Wobblyogi Wednesday – ‘Nirodhah’ Finding Resolution

“In yoga, philosophy, and practice are married,” says, Judith Hanson Lasater in the first Q&A section of her (and her daughter’s) course, Patanjali 101.

Further on, she explains that to understand Patanjali intuitively we have to feel moments of self-doubt, to feel how our memory pulls us away from the mat, to feel how our to-do races us forward, to pause when we feel a pose, to let go when we have difficulty in a pose, it is not only doing the pose but also “thinking” the pose. How do I feel, respond, and think as I’m moving on the mat and then maybe begin to think about how we move in the world.

During my graduate studies in philosophy, I was never asked how I “feel” about a particular philosophy. The prejudice against feelings in philosophy stems from a fear that feelings  are subjective, volatile and obstructs clear, rational thinking and most importantly dialogue. We cannot connect and converse with others through emotions. To someone who says ” I just love Plato,” I cannot respond or negate her/his emotions. I can’t say, “No you don’t.” I can only respond and argue with reasons. The philosophical primacy centers on sustaining dialogue.

The nature of dialogue in yoga is different. Instead of philosophical intersubjective, the yogic dialogue  happens within the self as an appeal to the inner divine. What some yoga practitioners share are the Patanjali’s practices, most share the asanas. As a philosopher, yoga helps me feel what I understand of the world, but most importantly how I feel about my own responses. For me, the co-action of breath, movement and thought is what attracts me most to the material spirituality of yoga.

I look forward to learning more during the next 5 weeks.

The first week of the course centered on the first three sutras of the Patanjali and the mountain pose.

Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodhah.

In choosing a Patanjali translation, Ms. Lasater recommends noting the translation of the word, nirodahah. She likes the word “resolved”, and explains, “I no longer use my mind to get stirred up. I can stand back and feel resolved, feel free. From that space the freedom to choose my actions.”

Here are seven other translations of the sutra:

  1. Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of mind. – Edwin F. Bryant
  2. Yoga is the restraining of the mindstuff. – Swami Vivkeananda
  3. Yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased it identify itself with its vacillating waves of perception. – Mukunda Stiles
  4. Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness. – Chip Hartranft
  5. Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart. – Nischala Joy Devi
  6. Union, spiritual consciousness, is gained through the control of the versatile psychic nature. – Kindle edition of Patanjali
  7. The restraint of the modifications of the mindstuff is Yoga- Sri Swami Satchidananda.

Here is a pdf that compares four translations of the sutras side by side in a chart for my fellow yoga-nerds.

May we all find our own translation through practice,