Lifestyle Magazine

The Top Ten Mistakes People Make In Their Yoga Practice – Clever Yoga with Hello Misha

By Linsibrownson @CleverSpark

I really wanted to give you all a post on getting happy with your hip flexors this week, but I recently reawakened an old Zumba injury (yes, really. Who in the world has an old Zumba injury, right? Me.) and need to baby my ankle big time. This made me think – what can we do in our respective yoga practices to honor our bodies and prevent injury? And what can we avoid to make sure we’re getting the most from practice? Here are the top ten yoga mistakes people often make -

Mistakes that are holding back your yoga practice

1. Thinking you need a different strap. Or a different mat. Or a different outfit – I am SO guilty of this what with my Manduka mat envy. But I also know I can practice anywhere, any time, with or without any thing. When I do my morning sun salutations, I actually just get out of bed and roll with it on the carpet – no mat necessary. So don’t think that your practice would be SO much better if you were only clad in lululemon head to toe – it might help a smidge, but you don’t really need it.

2. Feeling too afraid to try scary looking poses – when you see arm balances and inversions, do you feel challenged like, YEAH! Let’s do this! or intimidated? I hope it’s the former, but in case it’s the latter, please promise me you’ll try just ONE next time you practice. They seem weird and challenging to all of us at first, but it’s so funpowering (fun AND empowering) that you’ll be hooked. Or at least, you’ll always be able to say you tried.

3. Being intimidated by the asana names – I have a lot of friends who are freaked out by the whole Sanskrit name for poses thing. They’re concerned the teacher might say malasana, and they’ll think she meant bakasana and then they’ll get embarrassed and everything will be haywire. Or something. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I sometimes have no idea what pose they’re referring to. I just wait for the English version (instructors usually say something like “Go into ardha chandrasana… which is half moon pose, so place your hand…) or take a peek at what they’re doing. No worries.

4. Not working with your breath – the reason your teacher is telling you to inhale at certain points and exhale at others is not because she’s a crazy control freak who wants to boss you around on everything from your toe placement to your respiration. It’s because the breath is what makes it all happen. I mean, literally, yes – without it we’d all turn blue and pass out, obviously – and if you’re breathing properly, the whole practice becomes easier. You can accomplish more when you let your breath help you out.

5. Assuming one pose fits all – if you’ve got a good teacher, she’s probably offering you variations for some of the poses you’re doing. If you’re like me, the first time you go to a really difficult class, you’re like “Must. Nail. All. The. Poses!” and don’t want to take it easy at ALL – no way will you Cobra when you can Up Dog, right? Well, sometimes you probably SHOULD take the variation. Or you may end up so sore you’ll never want to go back again. Which negates the entire thing.

6. Leaving during savasana – I’m laughing as I type this because I remember so many times that I’d get ANGRY when people left during savasana. I mean, Don’t they KNOW how RELAXING this is? How CRUCIAL to their practice? And PS? Opening the door is disturbing ME, the VERY SERIOUS YOGI. GRRRRR! Which, of course, defeated the whole purpose of corpse pose, but hey. Seriously, savasana is one of the most important parts of the practice. It’s your time to relax and feel real, true calm. How many times a day do you get that luxury? Don’t squander it because you need to hustle to the grocery store – that eggplant can wait five more minutes.

7. Trying to force a style that just doesn’t fit – not all styles are right for every body. I personally love vinyasa but know others who find all the flowing to be super boring. Hatha doesn’t do much for me – I often find my mind wandering. I’d like to try Acroyoga, but am secretly afraid of Bikram. What does this mean? It means if you try ONE class and you don’t much care for it, don’t write off yoga. Similarly, if your bestie keeps dragging you to an Ashtanga class, but you HATE it, don’t keep making yourself miserable. There are many styles of yoga, and the style that’s right for you is the one that, well, feels the best for you!

8. Not worrying about posture (aka duck butt) – this seems like more of a small detail, but it’s one of the items most likely to cause serious injury. When you’re in a pose, remember to align your pelvis. If you’re booty is sticking out, you could really hurt your lower back. And no one wants to go around explaining they have an old yoga injury plaguing them. That just sounds silly.

9. Practicing on a full stomach – OK, not to sound like a 12 year old boy here, but farts happen. And unfortunately, flatulence happens in class a LOT. Try to eat a few hours before you practice and even then, avoid a big spicy meal. It’s better for everyone around AND it’s better for you. All gas talk aside, a pizza lunch + a forward fold = seriously painful reflux.

10. Worrying about what everyone else is doing – if you ever sneak in late and sit in the back row of class (I never do. I always come in early and rock the front row. JUST KIDDING.) you’ll probably get a pretty good view of a very interesting pose – the neck swivel. You know the one – people not-so-surreptitiously look left and right to see where their left hand should be or how well everyone else is executing the pose. Now, if it’s just for one split second to see what Reverse The Warrior means, cool. But if you’re constantly sneaking peeks at Miss Upside Down Underwater Compass Pose is No Problem, just stop. Her practice is her practice, yours is yours. Never the twain shall meet. It won’t make you feel better, and it’s probably making her wonder if her thong is showing or something.

Do you have a do or don’t I left off the list? Tell me your most egregious yoga mistake in the comments!

Enjoy your practice!



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