• Yoga Mistake #1
  • Pushing Yourself Too Hard

Of course, you want to challenge yourself, but in doing so you shouldn’t hurt yourself. Yoga should not be painful. Pain is your body’s way of telling you you’ve gone too far. You’ll still feel the burn when you’re working hard to gain strength or flexibility, but that’s a different kind of pain than the kind that comes with a torn hamstring.

The more basic poses in yoga can still be incredibly challenging, and they’re also crucial building blocks for the more advanced poses. Mastering the basics will get you safely and successfully into that crazy arm balance or inversion, if and when you’re ready. Practice consistently, and you’ll learn when you should push yourself and when to back off.

  • Yoga 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.

  • Yoga Mistake #3
  • 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.

  • Yoga Mistake #4
  • Holding Your Breath

The number one mistake people make in yoga is holding their breath. Often when students are trying to get the pose right, concentrating or trying to balance, they hold their breath. Holding your breath prevents the free flow of energy and creates stress and tension – the exact opposite of what a yoga practice is about. If you find that you’re having to hold your breath, it’s a sure sign that you’re pushing too hard. Whether you’re lying down, or upside down or standing on one leg, you need to have a steady breath. If you catch yourself out of breath, take a break, regain control of your breath and then re-join the class.

  • Yoga Mistake #5
  • Failing to disclose medical/physical conditions

When you visit yoga classes, 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. 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!

  • Yoga Mistake #6
  • Skipping Savasana:

This is the final resting pose of your yoga class, you know, the one where you get to lie down. For some people, savasana is their favorite part of the class, and for others, it is really difficult. Whether it’s hard because you can’t lie still, have a hard time relaxing, or feel like you don’t have the time, remember that this could be the most important pose of your practice. It sets you up to gradually enter a truly relaxed state, allows you to absorb all of the wonderful things that have happened within your body during class, and can act as a starting point for meditation. If you’re a serial savasana skipper, try to stick around the next time you practice. And if lying on your back is uncomfortable for any reason, talk to your teacher and see if they can recommend a modification, such as lying on your stomach. After all, yoga shouldn’t be stressful or uncomfortable — just the opposite.

  • Yoga Mistake #7
  • Comparing yourself to your neighbor

One of the most effective ways to get injured or discouraged is by looking at your neighbor and trying to mirror their pose or stretch. All of us have different body types and skillsets. 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.