You might expect yoga instructors not to have a single care in the world, considering the focus in their profession of cultivating some serious zen.
Yes, the ancient practice typically helps us direct our energy inward, but it's not always easy to ignore external distractions and detractors during class. In an effort to help make your favorite yoga studio even more of an oasis, we asked a handful of instructors what they wish we'd all just stop doing. Here are their top requests.
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"There has been a stigma with yoga that you have to force and struggle in order to achieve 'the pose'. Practicing with force puts stress into the body and mind -- and doesn't feel that great. If people shift this concept to moving with ease, more can be accomplished with less effort, and it feels great and free. More space opens mentally and physically."
, founder and owner of Strala
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"Stop comparing yourself to others and take poses for your body and ability. I see many students struggle to take poses they are not ready for. Students see others take poses and they think they too should be able to do that particular arm balance or more advanced version of a pose. The thing is, students need to remember that they are in a class of varied levels. Some people might have been practicing for 10 years longer than you or might just have more flexibility or strength. Recognize this and be okay with it. Then you will grow your practice slow and steady just like intended."
, yoga teacher and co-founder of Health Yoga Life
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"I would love yoga students to start asking me more questions and giving me more feedback before or after class. I love it when people tell me, 'Wow, I loved that sequence!' or 'Can we do inversions?' I always seem to fall back on my favorite ways of teaching, and it really helps to have feedback. I don't want my students to be shy!"
, celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor
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"I believe that as yoga practitioners we have to remind ourselves that we don't have to have the answers. The pose doesn't have to 'look perfect'. It's about the feeling you have inside that's the most important.
Yoga ignites my inner childhood spirit. In a way, it helped me to save my life, and it helped me to overcome many demons I was battling inside. I hope that those practicing yoga receive the same joy and life it brings me."
--Michelle R. Grosodonia
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use props! Yoga is not about showing off your flexibility or your muscles, and you certainly won't get much out of the practice if you're forcing yourself into poses (which almost always means you're doing them incorrectly). The hour you spend on your mat at yoga class isn't about impressing people or being the best -- ease yourself into poses and listen to your body. Props can be an amazing tool to help you to get into the correct alignment of a pose and to find your comfortable level in any posture. Using blocks or blankets doesn't make you any less of a yogi -- but trying to one-up your neighbor sure does!"
, features editor, The Huffington Post
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"Stop trying to 'get a pose'. I hear so many students say, 'I want to do a crow pose.' 'I want to do headstand.' Most yoga poses are not something you can just get. The poses go together. For example, as you learn low push and downward dog this will prepare you to take crow pose. As you build balance in standing poses and core strength, this will actually help you find headstand. Yoga is not a practice of stand alone poses but rather a sequence of poses that are designed to work together."