Confessions of an Embarrassment Junkie

Confessions of an Embarrassment Junkie

The absolute terror of the first time I walked into an Ashtanga Yoga Mysore class is something I will never forget. The room was silent and steamy and the teacher did little more than grunt and nod to acknowledge my existence. The students looked like professional athletes carrying themselves like some hybrid contortionists-ballerinas through each graceful move. I felt short and stout in comparison and without the right clothes or yoga gear to join this sacred club.

But I was already in the room.

I had two choices and they both seemed equally horrifying. I could turn around and leave which would definitely not go unnoticed, or I could stay and fumble my way through my poses in the room to which I certainly didn’t belong. As I made the decision to stay an incredible courage came over me. I would do this thing, for myself and nobody else, the best I could, despite my inner assurance that the whole room would be laughing at me.

I put down my mat and I took my first Ujjayi breath.

Fifteen years later I am now the proud owner of my own yoga studio, Land Yoga, Executive Director of Three and a Half Acres Yoga nonprofit, co-producer of SOULFest NYC, and author of My Bliss Book as well as several published articles. I speak all over the world about yoga, yoga service, and goal achievement, including presenting for companies such as Halstead, Estée Lauder, the JCC and more.

How did I make the leap from sheer terror and utter embarrassment to becoming a respected leader in my field?

Here are the five simple techniques I used to turn my embarrassment into a success story:

  1. Remember that EVERYONE is in their own heads about how they are being perceived. They are way too involved in sorting out their own insecurities to be judging YOU! We think we are much more important to others than we are and that is because we are each the lead character in our own story. Once you remember that each person is the lead in her own personal story, you will realize how little others are thinking about your performance and how much they are focused on their own.
  2. Focus intensely on your task. When you are truly, 100% focused on what you are doing, you have no time to be worrying about what anyone else is thinking. That is wasted energy that could be channeled into your project. How can you land a handstand, master a closing argument or complete any challenging act if a part of you is thinking of something else? You can’t. Focus on your job and your job only and you won’t only block the others out, you’ll be better at what you do!
  3. Play out the worst case scenario. When all else fails to allow yourself to go there. See yourself making the most embarrassing mistake possible and consider the worst possible outcome. If it’s a yoga class, perhaps your worst fear is you slip on your mat falling over on someone. What would happen then? Do you really think they would kick you out of class? Stop speaking to you? Do you confidently believe that no one has ever made this mistake before? Think it through and ask yourself if it is really worth not taking a shot at something you want to learn if the worst thing happens.
  4. Consider the people whose judgments are holding you in your tracks. Are they really worth going into your shell for? If those around you fault you and treat you harshly when you try something new and make a mistake, are they, in fact, the people whose opinions you really should be trusting?  If those you trust are that harsh with their response to failure, they are not the right people to be looking to. Leaders know that failing is a critical part of discovery and advancement and they encourage calculated risk-taking around them. How do you respond to people around you taking a chance and trying something outside their comfort zone? I hope with encouragement and praise. Surround yourself with people who will do the same for you.
  5. Finally, the best way to get good at risk-taking is to make it a habit. Get in the pattern of taking chances and embarrassing yourself with abandon. Learn to laugh at yourself, dust off the dirt, evaluate and get right back up each time you make a mistake. The more you get used to taking chances, the easier it is to put yourself out there the next time and time after that. One of those times the chance you take is going to pay off into an embarrassingly big WIN.


Here’s your BONUS tweetable final motivator inspired by the excellent book Grit:

Success comes from stick-to-itiveness, not from innate talent.

Use that one any time you’re tempted to give up!

So now it’s time for you to comment and commit. Which one of these methods will you be using to get yourself out of holding back? Do you have other tricks? Share with me in the comments and share the blog with someone you know it could help!


How to Tell if it’s Time for a Change

How to Tell if it’s Time for a Change

Have you ever thought to yourself that you’ve invested too much to pull out of the life you’ve created, even though something is telling you it’s not your truest calling? Maybe you dare not ask, dare not consider changing direction at this point in the game. Most of us feel this way, especially because so many supporters become invested in our story and have a stake in the life we have lived up until now. I want you to know it is NEVER too late to change direction especially if it means following your highest calling. That is why I decided to share my story with you today.

I went to Boston University for acting. My parents struggled to pay costly tuition and grudgingly supported my college years getting a major in a subject they did not think worthy of such time, fees, and support. Everyone knew me as the actress since I was six years old. I went to a weekend theater school and did all the school plays straight through high school. I enjoyed being on stage but I had secret reservations I was somehow a sham. At 17 I had too much ego to look into those reservations. My focus was much more on proving naysayers wrong. So I went to University and pursued acting.

Two things happened along the way that would change my course forever. One was my deepening discovery of yoga and encounter with Ashtanga Yoga. The other was the asking of one of my teachers this simple question: Do you believe you can change the world through theater? To be clear, I do think the impact of performing arts is world-changing, but as I sat with that question, I couldn’t say that I thought I could change the world through acting. I did want to change the world for the better and I had found a practice that I had faith I could do it through. That practice was and remains yoga.

I didn’t just drop acting in one day. It took me a while to investigate the yoga thing and prepare myself to make the transition to yet another unconventional life path. I knew I’d be disappointing a lot of people, both by destroying their image of what they thought was me and by asking them to get behind another atypical career choice. I had to be certain before I could share and change the way others skepticism might rock me.

When I found I was certain and I started letting them know. In the transition time, I spoke less about acting, slipped in some doubts and shared bits about my new found love of yoga, preparing the way for both myself and my community for my eventual coming out as a full-time yoga teacher. I started changing my story.

I was in my late 20’s when this all went down, which some will say is plenty early in life to make a change, but I will argue ANY age is early enough to throw it all away: 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond, if the all is not your true calling. I was as known and wrapped up in the identity of “actress” as anyone in any long-time career and made the same steps anyone will have to, to remove myself from the web of that identity. And it could happen again.

Even now, my role as yoga teacher though still very much present is being tested by my work as a coach, writer, and company director. Which identity will win out is yet to be seen. Maybe I’ll be able to thrive with some blend of them all. Maybe not. What I do know for sure is that I won’t be afraid to walk away from a role which isn’t mine to fill anymore. I have the memory of my first experience leaving acting as a guide and I hope my sharing that memory helps you to identify when it’s time for you to change and gives you the courage to go for it.

Not sure if it’s time to throw it all away to step into the next and better? Below are some questions to ask yourself which will help you find your clarity.

  • Are you in a field you’ve outgrown or never truly fit?
  • Are you fulfilling someone else’s dream?
  • Is there another path calling?
  • Has there always been a whisper you’ve been too scared to follow?
  • What you would do if you could do the thing which is truly you?

It is never too late to reinvent yourself and do so successfully. Do take the time to ask yourself this self-probing follow up questions as well.

  • Am I thinking of throwing my current life away because of fear I can’t succeed?
  • Do I often quit when things are tough and jump around from identity to identity?
  • Is my reinvention something I’ve wanted consistently for a long time?
  • What would success look like and what are the resources I have to get there?

Comment below if you’ve been through or are thinking of going through a major transformation and you use your story to help others. Then take a look at my recent Train Your Brain for Success talk at Women Who Wow where I share my story and offer some other tricks for stepping into a new and better you.

How to get everything you want

How to get everything you want

I have been accused of being stubborn and unmoving on one practice and I certainly am. It’s the single habit that when fully incorporated into one’s life results in the attainment of everything the practitioner desires. It may just be the hardest action to be absolutely consistent with, but the payoff for being so is undeniably unbeatable. The action is truthfulness.

Made famous by Don Miguel Ruiz in his book, The Four Agreements, the concept of truthfulness, or impeccability of word, is an ancient one. In Sanskrit it is called Satya, and in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali he lays out the special results one is embedded with when she achieves absolute truthfulness.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras 2.36 “Satya pratiṣṭhāyāṁ kriyā phalā ‘śrayatvaṁ”

As truthfulness (satya) is achieved, the fruits of actions naturally result according to the will of the yogi.

Plainly put, when one maintains absolute truthfulness, what one speaks comes absolutely true.

What this means and the part of the concept I know so many of you struggle with is in order to have everything you desire you must consistently do what you say you are going to do, fully and completely and in the time you say you will do it.

I know this is no easy task and that is why I created the concept Leveling Up. It is a simple method for helping you maintain truthfulness and it works like this: Begin by committing only to tasks so small you can not possibly miss the mark. If there is even a chance you may not be able to achieve something asked of you, do not agree to it. This in itself may take some practice if you are an over-promiser afraid of letting people down.

The next step is to praise yourself generously for even the smallest act achieved. Just note how good it feels to do what you say and give yourself all the love. Let the feeling truly touch you.
Once you’ve been practicing this awhile, your confidence will naturally build. You will realize you can commit to a bigger ask. Don’t over challenge yourself at this point. Go for something just a touch bigger and feel the great pride in that next accomplishment. The goal is to go slowly and naturally and stay consistent in your commitment to doing what you say you will do.

As you continue to do so you will be able to achieve more and more based solely on your word and the believability you have built in yourself. You will even surprise yourself with what you can accomplish by the mere fact that you have stated you will do so. This is a practice I used to transition to a full-time yoga teacher, to getting clients in the most prestigious sports clubs in New York City, to opening my own studio, traveling the world, starting a non-profit, and publishing My Bliss Book. I also used Leveling Up for getting an apartment on my own with no roommate, to upgrading to a one bedroom and then for making my first and second home purchases. Not to mention finding my life-partner! It’s a tested practice and it works.

The key is to be absolutely flawless with your word. That includes what you say to yourself and to others. If you promise to show up, you must. No plan breaking, no calling in “sick”. Only honesty. If you can master this… you can get everything you want.

Accessible Yoga Conference Europe

Accessible Yoga Conference Europe

For the first time ever, the Accessible Yoga Conference is coming to Germany. This three-day conference is designed to support yoga teachers that want to expand access to Yoga teachings for people with disabilities, chronic illness, seniors or others who may not feel comfortable in a regular yoga class. The conference takes place at the The Seehotel in Rheinsberg, a “barrier free hotel” on a lake Friday, October 19, 2018 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Details and registration can be found here.

Yoga teacher, and studio owner Lara Land is presenting at the conference and is here to share more about why this is such an important event.

Lara, what made you get involved in the Accessible Yoga Conference?

There are so many reasons I wanted to be involved. I’ve been on a personal mission to destroy exclusivity and elitism in yoga for over a decade, so when I discovered there was a whole organization dedicated to openness and inclusivity in yoga, I was immediately interested. I attended the Accessible Yoga Conference in 2017 New York City and was highly impressed. There were so many courses rich with information from those who have had lengthy experiences making yoga accessible to different marginalized groups. I wished I could attend each and every talk twice just to soak it all in. I later met founder Jivana when he gave a one day Accessible Yoga intensive at Omega Institute and felt even more drawn to his mission.

What will you be presenting at the Conference?

My workshop, Yoga Service; Creating Conscious Community, teaches how we as yoga teachers can open up the practice to go beyond the yoga studio and use it to form lasting bonds between humans. In the class we will discuss what it means to be in yoga service, uncover the hidden tendencies which make yoga feel unavailable to some, identify methods for shifting the dialogue and practices of yoga to include everyone, and establish a road map for creating conscious community through yoga, meditation & mindfulness. As teachers, it is necessary that we understand the objections some feel toward starting a yoga practice, and create a safe space for exploring them as we work together to create an alternative view.

Is this work you have done in your community?

Yes. In 2011, I founded Three and a Half Acres Yoga, a non-profit designed to bring yoga to marginalized populations as a tool for healing and empowerment. We partner with community organizations to add yoga to the services they provide. This means teaching in unconventional yoga spaces and using what we have, often just ourselves and some chairs, to share the benefits of yoga. Our classes are for everyone, no matter age, gender, ability, sexuality, sobriety, professional status, or living situation. We are a judgement free organization determined to share yoga with those who are open to receiving its benefits.

Sounds like a wonderful organization. Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or the conference?

I just want to say how excited I am to be presenting just outside Berlin, one of my favorite cities in the world. I hope to be teaching more and more in Germany in the coming years and I am so looking forward to meeting new friends there. I’ll be bringing some copies of my new book, My Bliss Book, a daily planner that teaches how to envision and create a life of service to self and others. I can’t wait to share this with the European community.

How to Stop Procrastinating

How to Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination is a tricky issue for even the best of us. Here are some ways to conquer the avoidance habit and get ahead of the game:

  1. Get an accountability buddy.  There is nothing like having someone there checking in on you to make sure you get things done on time. Choose that friend you can really count on to hold you to your word and not to let you slide or get away with your regular excuses. Set frequent in-person check-ins so you can’t hide.
  2. Set yourself urgent “Due By” dates. Remember the pressure of turning a school report in. Create that urgency by setting yourself a strict submit by date. Put reminders in your phone that you can’t ignore.
  3. Post your plans. There’s nothing like a big public promise to put some fire under you. I remember before I even signed the lease for Land Yoga announcing that I was opening a yoga studio in that spot. That’s a little risky, but hey, it worked! I recently announced a Land Yoga fix up by our anniversary date. I posted it everywhere. I wasn’t sure we would get it done in time, but we did. Our contractor felt the pressure of that public announcement as well. Nothing like putting yourself out there. The community feels involved and you won’t believe the lengths they will go to to help you.
  4. Set small intermediary goals on your way to your main goal. Every project can be broken down into smaller, less scary steps that will help you to ease your fear and get started. Say for instance, if you are working on a book. That’s a huge undertaking. If you say you are going to write a book by next year, when you sit down to write you’ll likely stare at the blank screen overwhelmed. Instead, break the task down into smaller goals and set deadlines on those. Make your chapter breakdown due tomorrow. That will get you moving!
  5. Start working now.  Make a rule that you can never say, “I’ll start this tomorrow.” Tomorrow never comes. Instead do one small thing right now. Even the smallest action sets in motion future actions. When you are really stuck, find the minimum action you can do to move you forward. Then do it.


Here are some other tips.

Make sure you set a challenging but realistic date to accomplish your goal. If your goal is too far away you will have no motivation. Go back to #4 and make a sub-goal with a close deadline to focus on. Don’t make your goal unrealistically close either. You’ll know inside that it can’t be done and so you won’t even really try. You want to set yourself up for success. Too many failures teach the subconscious that we aren’t serious about keeping our word to ourselves.

Finally…I know there are a lot of you who believe you do your best work last minute under pressure, but this is not a sustainable method for growth. If that’s your style, it will get you far, but only so far. Eventually, lack of planning leads to reactive instead of strategic behavior. One day when you have a team to manage the whole operation will fall apart. Train yourself now in the habits that you will need for your future self! That’s how we grow!

Like this blog? Share it with a friend who could use it. Which strategy from above are you going to use to break the procrastination habit today? Write it in the comments below. Do you other strategies you use to combat procrastination? Share them in the comments below as well. Wishing you got your Bliss Book planner? Follow me at @laralandyoga for the full launch fall announcement and come to visit me at my last pop-up of the summer Sunday, July 15th at Red Rooster Harlem 10a-4p.

My Magic Manifestation Formula

My Magic Manifestation Formula

Jump start your manifestation today!

Want something badly and can’t wait to see it materialize, use these three practices which go all the way back to the Yoga Sutras circa 400 CE.

  1. Energize your desire. I know you think you could not want this thing more. Maybe you think about it day and night, anguishing over how to make it happen, boring your friends with constant obsession. The truth is this kind of wanting will fluctuate in time until you may even doubt you want it at all. That is unless you figure out WHY you want what you want.The greater and more world benefiting the WHY, the more likely you are to realize your desire. Each time you think of giving up, you’ll remember your purpose, the people who will benefit from your success, and you won’t be able to do anything but keep going.

    Warning: Do not try to trick the Universe! The Universe knows everything. A WHY can be selfish even if the project is a charitable one. If you’re not really tapped into the feelings of suffering your offering alleviates, stop everything and go listen with an open heart to those who will benefit from the manifestation of your desire. Maybe the one who will benefit is you. WHY is this the way to heal your wound for eternity?

  2. Determine correct action. This comes from study. Knowing what actions to take is not a simple task. It is much like physics. First, you must understand yourself, your field, your audience, and your resources before you know which and precisely how many actions to take. Without making the time to study, you risk a myriad of misguided efforts that could result in your not achieving your desire and even in your moving further away from it. Take time to get to know yourself and the people and situations around you. Study yourself and others like there’s going to be a test. Keep notes on the results of different actions. Look for all the things you could have missed. Most of all, do not be afraid to slow down and do the prep work. When you pause to study and test you not only save yourself from future backpedaling but when you do decide to act, your actions have maximum impact. They are designed that way.
  3. Have a little faith. The opposite of doubt which often acts as a riptide pulling us under, faith is the buoy which holds us up. When we walk in it we stand taller, breathe deeper, and smile more freely. In short, we relax. In this relaxed state, we both attract more opportunities to us and are more able to see the possibilities that were always in view. Faith is the mother who brushes us off when we haven’t succeeded and reminds us manifestation occurs in Divine time, and that often when we don’t get what we want it’s because something better is on its way. Trust in her and keep her with you in every manifestation journey.

Do you have other manifestation tips? Write to me here in the comments.

Think this formula could help someone you know? Share this with them.

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