Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater
I love the physical yoga practice. Getting on my mat and doing nothing but focus on my breath and my body can get me out of any funk I’m feeling. But my practice doesn’t end at the studio door. The goal of yoga is not to rock an awesome Handstand (although it’s pretty fun) the goal is to change lives. Yoga means union, union of breath and mind, body and spirit. Unfortunately, that part is infinitely more challenging than sticking a Handstand. We all have those days when it’s raining and cold (March I’m looking at you) and being positive is just too hard. There are some people in my life that drive me totally crazy and kindness is the last thing on my mind. As much as my yoga practice works on my body what I’m actually doing is working on my mind.
Judith Lasater has given us a guidebook for the maze of life. By referencing the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita as well as her own life challenges, she offers practices to try while off the mat to find Yoga within yourself, your relationships, and the world.
Right from the start Lasater changes the definition of practice by saying it is “the consistent willingness to open to life in all of its joy and pain. This definition certainly includes what you have always thought of as your yoga practice, such as poses, breathing exercises, and meditation. But it also casts a wider net to encompass frustration with your temperamental car, the argument with your friend, washing your dinner dishes and your apprehension about an important meeting. In other words, to practice is to pay attention to your whole life.”
Throughout the book Lasater is open and honest about her own life, positive and challenging, and how she used Yoga to be pay attention to her life. In the impermanence chapter she talks about watching her children grow up. There’s a chapter on Self-judgment in which she shares her own internal struggle with negative self-talk. She doesn’t hide any of her negative experience but shares them in hopes that her story will help us discover our true center.
Each chapter includes a short quote, thoughts from Lasater, as well as practice suggestions and Mantras for Daily Living. Some mantras include: “Perfection is an illusion” (p 28) from Self-Judgment. “Things are as they are, and I have a choice about how I react to them.” Or “What will happen if I don’t get what I want right now?” (p 88) from Attachment and Aversion. “I open to giving and receiving love” (p 145) from Love. The practice suggestions are quick things too, meant for you to be able to during your day when you notice how you’re feeling about a situation. Often Lasater recommends that we just take a second and label the feeling. When we can acknowledge a feeling for exactly what it is then it becomes easier to get past that emotion.
Lasater doesn’t claim to be perfect, thank goodness. She invites us into her life to see both success and failure. Through this process of examining her life it becomes easier to examine our own life.
This was my second time reading the book and it struck me how I connected with different chapters because I was at a different place in my life. It’s the kind of book you can read all the way through or you can keep by your nightstand and open a random chapter to read before you go to sleep.