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Yoga Teachers Reveal 6 Common Yoga Mistakes to Avoid

Yoga Teachers Reveal 6 Common Yoga Mistakes to Avoid

The world of yoga has changed a great deal since Lilias Folan’s PBS show “Lilias, Yoga and You” brought yoga into living rooms across the United States during the 1970’s. Now, yoga can be found at most local gyms and fitness centers, and has become an entire industry unto itself, from the yoga fashion of brands like Lululemon and Be Present, to DVD’s, books, magazines. Plus, the many retreats offered in exotic locations around the globe all dedicated to improving ones yoga practice. It can be hard to remember at times that the true goal of yoga as it was originally taught in India is spiritual liberation.

The word yoga means union. Practicing yoga involves a deep quest of uniting body, mind and spirit and is much more than just a physical practice. Given the many styles of teaching that have come forth since Lilian Folan’s television show in the 1970s, and that some practices may have strayed from what Patanjili, the author of the ancient yoga sutras, had in mind, it seemed worth investigating these six common yoga mistakes to avoid in today’s yoga world.

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1. Don’t hold your breath

Paying attention to the breath is important in most yoga practices. Yoga teacher Dr. Madan Bali reminds us of this one major mistake to avoid, “cardiac patients should be particularly careful not to hold the breath while practicing yoga.” His statement infers a gentle monitoring on the part of the practitioner to do what works for their own bodies, beyond just what a yoga teacher may be telling them. This 90-year-old yoga teacher from Montreal is a living example of a healthy yoga practice, and has been on the faculty at the world’s premier holistic learning centers Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.

2. Don’t overdo it

Jean Koerner, who has been teaching yoga for over 20 years, and is one of the yoga teacher training faculty at ISHTA Yoga in Manhattan, says,  “one common yoga mistake people make is not listening to their body and pushing or over efforting, which can cause injury.” The importance of deeply listening inside and honoring one’s own body and its limits must always be a priority.

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3. Just relax

“Another common yoga mistake people make is trying to fit their body to a pose rather than fitting the pose to their body,” says Ms Koerner. “One of the biggest mistakes people make with a yoga practice is that they think there is something to achieve or to get to. Because we exist, we are there already.”

4. Know your yoga

Glenn Black, a well respected yoga teacher and faculty at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, who was also highly quoted in a William J Broad’s “New York Times” article in 2012 titled “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”, says: “the biggest mistake people make is to call asana Yoga.”

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Mr Black’s comments emphasize that in the West some of the more mindful elements of yoga can often be left out or forgotten. He continues, “Biggest mistakes people make is to think that they can do asana and even the mental (meditative) techniques without preparation or proper assessment of their bodies or minds, and expect good results.”

5. Don’t ignore the fifth limb

Known for his wry sense of humor, Glenn Black also addresses the common yoga mistake that many in today’s yoga world being that people ignore the fifth limb of yoga called Pratyahara, which is about withdrawal and sensory transcendence.

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“It is time for people to be devout. To cut the ties we have to the attachments that fill out society,” says Mr Black. “The results of serious practice may then have a chance to raise Consciousness beyond when we jumped from the trees.”

6. Remember that it is more than a form of exercise

Gillian Arthur, who studied yoga at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and now teaches as restorative yoga faculty at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, sums up her thoughts with “A common yoga mistake is to see it as a practice of doing. Yoga is not a practice of doing, but a practice of being.”

Hopefully with the wisdom of these teachers and others, we can be reminded that to misappropriate yoga as simply another fitness craze or way of getting a physical workout misses the true essence and spirit of an ancient system of healing and enlightenment.

Featured photo credit: Young woman is practicing yoga at mountain lake via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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