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Yoga Teachers Reveal 6 Common Yoga Mistakes to Avoid

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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.”

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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 November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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