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Can Yoga Help You Be More Laid-Back (Even If You’re High-Strung)?

Erica always speaks in a soft tone, even when she’s dealing with a stressful situation. She’s incredibly laid-back. I know this because I recently witnessed her finding the driver side window of her car smashed.

Someone had busted it and stolen her phone charger, sunglasses, and the loose change she had sitting by the gear shift. There was a flood of glass both inside the car and all over the ground.

“Damn,” she said quietly. “Well, I sure did tempt them, didn’t I? Those sunglasses were gorgeous.” She smiled and pulled out her phone, barely sighing at her dilemma.

Is there a secret for how to be more relaxed?

“Have you ever used Safe Auto?,” she asked. We discussed her options. She didn’t get frustrated or complain.

Feeling the need to acknowledge this, I commented that she was handling things really well. “Aww, no use in getting upset. I’m just happy it’s not raining. I will miss those sunglasses though.”

Later that day, I kept thinking about Erica and how differently she reacted to the break-in than I would have. I already dug her, but now I was inspired. I want to be more like her.

She’s right. Responding badly would have made an already irritating circumstance all the more annoying.

So why do so many of us handle every little thing like a catastrophe? And can we learn to just simply not? Is there a secret for how to be more relaxed? Or how to be laid-back?


When You Hear “Laid-Back,” Who Do You Immediately Think Of?

The point is, you thought of someone specific. We all know humans we’d describe as chill, easygoing, and calm. But is this a part of their hardwiring or can we be taught to think and behave in a laid-back manner?

I believe the answer is: It depends. If you have a story in your head that you don’t think you can, then you won’t ever try. If you suffer from anxiety, this may automatically present itself as an impossibility.

But could we perhaps modify our reactions and aim to stay level more often?

What Does It Really Mean to Be Laid-Back?

Well, let’s distinguish “laid-back” from “doormat.” If you’re training a puppy not to jump on people, it’s not laid-back to just let him do whatever he wants and chuckle under your breath. But not yelling or getting upset as you consistently correct his behavior is.

We can be calm humans while setting boundaries and enforcing important rules. But if you’re thinking it’s so much easier said than done, you’re only slightly right. It erroneously seems simpler to give in to our learned behaviors of freaking out. We tell ourselves that venting makes us feel better.

But it’s typically not true. Actually, studies show that the more we complain, the worse we feel about a situation. It’s pretty hard to feel relaxed when a gripe is escaping your lips on the constant.

Yes, if something extraordinary happens, and we need to talk about it – that’s completely understandable and healthy. But when we’re talking about chronic uptight behavior, and the need to constantly vent threatens to decrease the quality of our lives, it has to be addressed.

How to Be More Relaxed: Can Yoga Truly Help?

Applying the same discipline we’ve lent to developing our yoga practices can be used in learning the art of becoming easygoing. The practices are vast and layered.

There’s so much opportunity to apply breath, meditation, the Yamas and Niyamas (ethical guidelines of restraints and observances), concentration, and asana. So how do we do practice this, exactly?

Need some help to get started? Practice this Relax and Restore 38-Minute Gentle Yoga Flow (Free Class)

Try These 7 Simple Steps Daily to Become More Laid-Back:

If this sound like precisely what you need, make this your priority practice. Because the real secret for how to be laid-back is to commit to these simple practices.

1. Journal

Journal for an entire week about all of the things from tiny to huge that you’ve observed yourself stressing out over. Don’t ignore any of it. If you feel even a tinge of anxiety, include it.

Not convinced? Here’s Why You Need a Mindful Journaling Practice & Tips to Get You Started

2. Acknowledge Your Reactions

Each evening, look over the things, people, and circumstances you’ve listed and ask yourself: Is it worth the energy? Does getting anxious and upset change the outcome?

This is one way to apply the Niyama of self-study (Svadyaya). If we don’t first acknowledge it, we can’t ever change it.

Honestly, The Niyamas Are Your Ticket to Inner Peace (Here’s Why)

3. Change Your Situation or Change Your Attitude

Incorporate the Yama of Ahimsa (non-harming) to your daily practices. It harms us to get worked up on the reg.

If you get bent out of shape because you’re still waiting on Jenny to respond to your email and she simply won’t do it, turn your energy to a short list of the top priorities of the day.

If Jenny is number one on that list, think if there’s another way to get your needs met or an alternative person you can reach out to. But if not, accept it and remember not to assume anything.

4. Practice Acceptance

Make a list of five poses that you typically get uptight about. If, for example, Crow Pose still feels as unattainable as it did the first time you attempted it, practice daily with the mantra: “It’s just a damn yoga pose.”

But do your best to investigate what isn’t working about the way you’re going about it. If you’re trying to nail Hanumanasana (Splits) but your hamstrings are about as obstinate as a child being dragged from Disneyland, then yeah, this pose is going to stress you out.

Some postures just don’t make sense in our bodies and asking ourselves to perform them anyway is only going to cause negative feelings.

Use all of the props and enjoy sensation without being attached to the outcome or how you think the pose should look. I promise you, this gets so much easier to do the more you practice it.

5. Define What’s Attainable

On that note, make a list of poses to give up on. I know, it sounds counterintuitive. There are poses that are medicinal, challenging, and strengthening. And there are postures that simply aren’t the best thing for us.

Wheel Pose comes to mind. For many, this is too big of an ask. We wind up putting our spines in peril by insisting on doing it. If it doesn’t feel available and valuable in your body, Bridge Pose is an excellent alternative.


6. Check Your Reactions

Commit to a standing balance posture such as Tree Pose. Hear and feel your breath. Connect with your drishti (gazing point). Concentration practices help us to stay calm and focus on what’s important.

Notice what happens internally when you fall. Do you use the information or get a little pissed? Work toward coming right back to it with renewed vigor and a deeper understanding that it’s really okay. We all fall out of poses.

Check your reactions and Improve Your Concentration With These 10 Yoga Poses

7. Meditate

Meditate for at least a few minutes every day. I know, we hear non-stop about the benefits of meditation constantly. There’s a reason for that. It helps us to calm down and zero in on what’s important. So, just do it.

Need a meditation kickstart? Here’s your Mindfulness Meditation Guide: How to Start a Daily Practice

How to Be More Laid-Back: The Takeaway

As with all things that are important in life, there is quite a bit of work involved. There always is. Nothing worth having comes easy.

It’s a beneficial effort for a more peaceful existence. It will serve each of us well and positively affect everyone we encounter.

Enjoy this and the many rewards that will reveal themselves beginning on the very first day. The immediate gratification will keep you motivated.

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Lara Falberg

Lara has been teaching yoga since 2006, trained in Atlanta, now residing in Columbus Ohio. Her website is a yoga teacher resource offering verbals cues, mini sequences, class themes, and studio reviews. Her novel Yoga Train is about a group of people who travel through the yoga teacher training experience together. Follow her on Instagram (@iworkbarefoot), Facebook and Twitter.

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