As a programmer, I worked on more than nine major projects at several different companies. Each of these projects, if done well and in a timely fashion, had the potential to lead to additional projects that would increase the company’s revenue and ensure job security for all who worked on the project.

One company I worked for was very small but had won a major contract in a new area of business. The man who had been instrumental in winning the contract had never managed such a sizable project and was nervous that something would go horribly wrong. This made him afraid to delegate, and he micromanaged to the point that no one could add a line to the program without his permission. Several months later, the owners of the company asked for a demonstration and were surprised that nothing substantial had been accomplished. A new manager was quickly assigned, but it was too late. Though we worked many late nights attempting to make up for the time lost, we never recovered and subsequent contracts for the project were given to different companies.

At another company, I was placed on a project on which the managers improvised as the project progressed. There were no consistent guidelines for the 40 programmers and soon everybody was going in their own direction. When the time came to put the parts together, it could not be done. Huge sections of the program had to be rewritten, and after many costly delays, the client gave up and gave the project to another company.

Another computer company I worked for was an hour’s commute from home. I met with the manager once a week so he could check my progress and make sure I was not going in a different direction than everyone else. The other consultants, some of whom lived in distant states, worked in a similar way. Of all of the programs I worked on, this was the only one that was successful. There was enough guidance to keep everyone together, but not so much that it stifled creativity.

When we come to the yoga mat, we have a wide range of approaches to our poses. Some of us tend to be hesitant. We go into poses tentatively and tensely, jaw tight, breathing shallowly, if at all. In the standing poses, our stance tends to be fairly narrow which is more stable, but restricts movement. This protectiveness is common in beginners, but some of us continue to move in this way for years. Others of us throw ourselves into poses, moving quickly and often without much control or deliberation, and in some poses can be dangerous. Alignment is inconsistent, and in standing poses, we may place our feet so wide as to be unstable. The ideal that a yogi or yogini attempts to achieve is to move into poses freely, but with control. We have enough muscle tone to protect the muscles, ligaments, and joints, but not so much that movement is restricted. We have an ease and a balance of tone and movement and of stability and freedom, which is apparent in every pose from the most basic to the most challenging.

Approaches to life are as varied as approaches to yoga poses. In some challenges, we tighten and draw in, which can be protective and feel safe, but too much conservatism can result in tentativeness, overprotectiveness, and in some cases avoidance. At other times our approach can be too loose or free and we act carelessly, rashly, or even recklessly, which can produce unexpected and sometimes undesirable results. In life, as in yoga, when we approach new challenges with just the right mix of control and openness, the results are far better than we ever imagined.