Our goal is to guide you throughout your yoga journey, helping you grow in strength, flexibility and mindfulness while preventing you from facing injury or discouragement. In this week’s blog we offer tips to help you avoid seven common yoga mistakes. Are you ready to get the most out of your yoga practice?
Mistake #1: Comparing yourself to your neighbor
One of the most effective ways to get injured or discouraged is looking at your neighbor and trying to mirror their pose or stretch. All of us have different body types and skill sets. The person on the mat next to you might be a former ballerina or athlete; they might have years of yoga experience under their belts; or they might be naturally flexible. Yoga is a personal journey, so there’s no reason you should be comparing yourself to anyone else.
Pro-Tip: When you find yourself trying to bend into a pose that your neighbor can do, take a moment to close your eyes, focus on your breathing and center yourself again. Remember, yoga is not about measuring your level of performance. It is about harnessing the energy to tame the mind and shedding our negative behavior and patterns.
Mistake #2: Comparing your body to the way it was 20 years ago, 2 weeks ago, or even yesterday
Remember when you were eight years old? You could practically do a cartwheel and wheel pose in your sleep. Your body moved where you wanted it to without even thinking about it. But that was when you were younger – before you sat in a desk for hours straight, or had a child of your own, experienced an injury or had a life full of stress, bills and interpersonal relationships. We carry stress and trauma deep within the tissues of the body. Limiting our movement and our mind.
Pro-Tip: Take a moment before class to meditate on the phrase: “Here I am. This is where I’m at with my body and strength today.” Always try to meet yourself where you are at – in the now.
Mistake #3: Pushing your body to do too much
Yoga beginners often mistakenly think that it will be a piece of cake. Maybe they’ve been exercising or playing sports for years. Although certain yoga poses seem simple, it’s best to listen carefully to your teacher’s instructions and ease into the practice without looking for an edge. Going slow and moving to the point of sensation as a newbie. It’s easy to fall prey to questions like “Why can’t I touch my toes yet?” or “Why is this not getting any easier?” The beauty of yoga is that it benefits you on many levels. Maybe you can’t touch your toes yet, but instead you’ve learned to modify to a better plank or breathe more effectively.
Pro-Tip: Take the most modified pose you can do correctly, in order to create strength and proper alignment rather than creating negative habits. Engage as many muscles by hugging the muscles to the bone throughout the entire practice. Instead of going deep, go strong.
Mistake #4: Practicing inconsistently
You know that feeling right after you finish a yoga class? You feel open, relaxed and focused – you can’t wait to come back for another one. But all of us lead busy lives and eventually our work, social life and family responsibilities begin to interfere. When you finally do return to class, you’ve lost what you thought you had gained. Don’t worry!! The mat is always there for you to build your strength and flexibility. The key is being ready. When you are ready to get consistent, your body will gradually open up, strengthen and move further into the poses. It just takes time and patience.
Pro-Tip: Commit to practicing yoga twice a week, even if that occasionally means rolling the mat out in your own basement and sitting in a seated position for meditation. Build a relationship with your mat. It can quickly become a good friend, guide and safe zone.
Mistake #5: Holding your breath
We often see students failing to let their breath lead them through the sequences or even holding it completely, especially during the more advanced poses. Forgetting to breathe consistently is a negative habit that causes anxiety and stress, exactly the opposite effect we seek in yoga.
Pro-Tip: Focus on your slow, deep inhales and exhales throughout the whole yoga class. (PS: read our recent blog post on how to breathe in yoga)
Mistake #6: Taking classes that are too advanced
If you’re a beginner to yoga, you really should look into trying a few slow or gentle flow classes first. These offer the opportunity to learn the poses, discover yogic breath and become comfortable within the practice. However, even the more advanced students would benefit from remembering the positive effects of slowing it down once in awhile.
Pro-Tip: Mix a few slow, gentle or restorative classes into your yoga routine. Check out our Restorative Workshop April 30, 2017 – Align & Relax – 90 minutes of restorative yoga for $20
Mistake #7: Failing to disclose medical/physical conditions
When you visit many of our classes at Yoga Fever, you’ll hear your teacher ask if there are any injuries or medical conditions he or she should be aware of. Students often feel embarrassed or too shy to speak up here. Your teachers want to know these issues so they can craft a restorative practice that won’t endanger your body.
Pro-Tip: Yoga is therapeutic. An experienced, intelligent teacher will help you overcome these injuries. Speak up!