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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 June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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