The Yamas and Niyamas of Getting Out of a Speeding Ticket

Posted on September 19th, 2013 by in Wake-Up Call


When I was a kid, I was the first place debater in New Jersey. If you know New Jersey, you know that this says a lot. Because, man, these folks can argue. They argue about parking spots, which booth to sit in at the diner, whose irritable bowel syndrome is worse, and who’d win in an arm wrestle, Bon Jovi or Springsteen.

My nickname was Silver Tongue and it was said that I could win any argument, get whatever I wanted, and talk my way out of anything.

This was not far off. I would use my words to buy booze, grademonger extra points on tests, and win every debate.

And, obviously, I lied to do this.

I lied that I was speeding because my colitis was flaring up; I made up facts during debates; and I concocted elaborate ruses to convince liquor store clerks that I was 22.

When I went off to college, I found yoga—and I stopped lying.

Yoga helped me slow down and feel. It made me more sensitive. I could feel my fear of getting caught, and even more so, I could feel the discomfort of being out of alignment. Yoga activated my moral compass.

Now I almost never lie—with the exception of white lies about the tooth fairy and whenever someone asks me if what they’re wearing makes them look chunky. For these, I forgo satya (truthfulness) and practice ahimsa (non-harming) instead.

But I never lie to win an argument or to get what I want.

And it feels amazing.

Like yesterday. For the first time in 10 years, I was stopped by a police officer. I was in a rush and had blatantly ignored a large “no left turn” sign along with two neon orange cones.

As I waited for the cop to approach my window, the old thoughts bubbled up. Three very effective lies materialized in my mind—I knew I could leave the scene with no ticket.

But I waved the lies away.

When I got home, my wife asked, “Were you nervous?”

Oddly, I was not. Even amid the flashing lights and the onlookers wondering what kind of trouble I was in, my heart never raced and my breathing never hastened. I was relaxed, empowered even. Actually, it was quite a high.


At first I wasn’t sure, but I think I figured it out. I got a $36 moving violation and maybe a point or two on my license. These are unfortunate, yes, but they are nothing, nothing, compared to the pain of lying, of worrying that I’ll get caught, and of being out of alignment.

In truth there is empowerment. During the experience, I never lied or stepped outside my integrity. I was planted strongly in my truest self. I could have saved $36, but at what cost? Seated in my true self, I was unshakable and blissed-out and, for that moment, I embodied the very aim and spirit of yoga.

Brian Leaf is a Kripalu Yoga teacher and the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness.


About Brian Leaf

Brian is the author of twelve books, including memoirs Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi and Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi. He is Director of the New Leaf Learning Center and a graduate of Kripalu's Yoga Teacher Training, Massage Training, and Spiritual Lifestyle Program. His work has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga International, USA TODAY, The Huffington Post, and Mothering Magazine.

5 Responses to “The Yamas and Niyamas of Getting Out of a Speeding Ticket”

  1. Ann September 19, 2013 2:21 pm #

    This story made me smile. I, too, am a yoga practitioner and teacher who tries to practice satya whenever ahimsa doesn’t trump it. I was stopped by a policeman last year for the first time in many years because instead of stopping at a red light I just whooshed around the corner to the right. I didn’t lie either. When he asked me if I knew what I had done wrong I told him “yes” and admitted to it. I told him I was rushing to an appointment that I was late for, and that I knew that I should have stopped at the light. And like you, I felt calm and centered and “right” through the whole incident. But mine had an even happier ending. After checking up on my record he came back and told me that this time he was only giving me a warning. And the reason? Because I had admitted that I was wrong and hadn’t try to lie to cover it up. Not only did I feel at ease inside, practicing satya actually saved me from getting a ticket!

    • Brian Leaf September 19, 2013 8:15 pm #

      Thanks for your story, Ann! Yes, I wonder if I had apologized and owned my actions if I would have gotten off. I basically said nothing. I think I was worried that if I spoke at all I’d be tempted to try and get out of it!

      • EMP September 19, 2013 10:08 pm #

        Brian- Thanks for this article. I find there’s so much avoidable angst out there about driving and parking tickets. Of the people that I know that get really upset about these things, they can all afford the fine, and have actually been speeding, parked illegally, etc. Myself included! I am no automobile saint. And like Ann, whenever I get pulled over for speeding I say something like “You’re right. I was driving too fast. I shouldn’t have done that.” All 100% true. There’s usually a really shocked reaction, and they’ve never given me a ticket. I hadn’t really thought of it explicitly in terms of satya, just “why lie?” so thanks for pointing this out. Maybe this yoga stuff really has seeped in! (and I just clicked on your links. your book looks really fun. I’m going to order it. I love memoirs, and a yoga/NJ memoir might be the trifecta)

        • Brian Leaf September 19, 2013 10:43 pm #

          Thanks, EMP! Hope it’s the trifecta!!

  2. Bea September 20, 2013 11:50 am #

    Enjoyed this story, you are a good writer and storyteller. I have often fantasized about how I would handle it if a police officer stopped me for slipping thru a yellow/soon to be, red, light or neglecting to look so carefully at yield signs and so on. Would I be so truthful I have often wondered … or lie to get out of feeling uncomfortable with having to admit that, yes, I was in the wrong? This article has helped me a great deal with this dilemna, the aftershock of feeling yucky about lying goes on for a long time.

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