10 Things Everyone Gets Wrong about Yoga (By Tara Stiles)

” In traveling around the globe and at home at Strala in NYC, I learn so much about people and people’s experiences practicing yoga. Mainly we all want to feel great, be connected, and live healthy, radiant lives. 

Yoga can be scary, intimidating, and just plain not fun. My goal has been to help myself and others have fun, move with ease, and follow feeling and intuition. The “easy” approach has worked for loads of people, including myself, allowing people the space and freedom to help their bodies work for them and their minds to calm, focus and be at ease. 

At the center of it all is happiness. The aim with every class I lead, every book I write, and every blog I post is to help people connect to themselves, where they always find joy and freedom. When people are disconnected, things get tough, tense, and stuck. When you are connected to you, you remember it’s great to be you and you remember everything you need to know is right inside, waiting for you to tap in and enjoy the ride.

When the practice of yoga is about connecting inward, staying easy, and having the goal to feel great, amazing results happen. You get strong, calm, connected. You get intuitive and happy. 

1. It’s not about the guru.

Yoga philosophy says the guru is within, but people practice memorizing the rules of some outside guru. Philosophy lectures will have you seated, writing in journals, and lectured to. It’s more useful when you practice exactly what you want in your life, rather than having this disconnect between an idealized philosophy and a very different-looking practice.  

If you want freedom and creativity in your life, you can practice that in your yoga. By practicing your own yoga, you get to directly experience your power within. Practice gives you the experience and confidence to move with ease in your life.

2. It’s not an intellectual study.

Of course, you can sit around and pontificate, theorize, even argue, and sign yourself up to listen to someone tell you what yoga is. Or you could do something much more useful and fun: practice and find out for yourself.

3. It looks different on every body.

One version of a pose is not better, or more advanced than another. Too often instructors say “If you are advanced to this, if you are a beginner do this.” If advanced yoga had to do with the poses, 11 year old gymnasts would be the most advanced yogis. Advanced yoga has to do with what is going on in your mind. Don’t worry about the picture of the pose. Allow yourself to find the ease in your body and mind. And a fun note: When you allow yourself to be easy, the poses will be a lot easier. 

4. It can be very athletic.

A mistake that happens along a yoga path is disconnecting the mind, body and spirit. “I am not my body” is a mantra that leads to unhappiness while you are living inside your body, which is your entire life. It’s ok and not superficial to move your body in a way to keep it healthy, strong, and open. Yoga is the connection of the mind, body, and spirit. Stay connected and enjoy the ride.

5. It’s not a religion.

The power is within you. Yoga connects you back inward. The practice brings you closer to your own truth. At Strala we have a Rabbi, Christians, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, and many other religions all practicing together. 

6. It can be your main form of exercise.

If you practice moving your body every day with yoga, it can be your only form of exercise, and it can be a really great way to cultivate health for your entire life. 

7. It’s not boring.

Your practice is there for you to connect inward. It can be as exciting and as interesting as you dare to discover. With Strala we make sure to have a lot of fun too. 

8. It doesn’t causes injuries.

People get injured practicing yoga when they disconnect from how they feel. When you push and force your body, your body will break. When you practice listening and following how you feel, you will cultivate a strong, healthy and radiant body and mind from the inside out.

9. You don’t need to memorize and follow a bunch of rules.

The only useful rule is to listen to yourself and follow that.

10. Nobody is more spiritual than anyone else.

Everyone has a spirit. We are all equally spiritual. Being a good person is something we can work on.”

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