Yoga is one of the most amazing tools for both mental and physical wellness, so it’s no wonder more than 2 billion people practice it worldwide. A yoga practice is something you can carry throughout your entire life, but there are challenges in the beginning. We’ve compiled this list of the most common mistakes every new yogi makes so you can avoid them from the start.
Mistake #1: Thinking You Have to Be Perfect
One of the most common mistakes new yogis make is thinking they have to be perfect. They think they have to nail every pose, have perfect alignment and be the most “deep” in meditation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoga is called a “practice” for a reason! Take it one class at a time and don’t be afraid to explore within yoga by practicing at home or trying new styles.
Mistake #2: Trying to Force Advanced Poses
It’s common to start practicing yoga and immediately want to try advanced yoga poses like Handstand, Firefly or King Pigeon pose. While you should embrace your enthusiastic spirit, it’s important to progress when your body is ready rather than forcing poses. It can take years for your body to build the flexibility to do certain poses and the beauty is in the journey!
Mistake #3: Compressing the Neck & Spine
Certain yoga poses put you at great risk for compressing your neck and spine (think headstand), especially if you’re not ready or if they are taught incorrectly. Pay careful attention to any pose that could place weight on your cervical spine or tweak your neck. It’s not going to be a longstanding relationship with yoga if you injure yourself!
Mistake #4: Holding Your Breath
Yoga is a practice that combines breathing with physical postures and meditation. In classes, you often hear “it’s all about the breath” and “if you’re not breathing, you’re not doing yoga” because your breath should lead your practice. Your breath is a vehicle to move the prana or “life force” throughout your body, not to mention breathing in poses helps open tight areas and release fascial tension.
Mistake #5: Comparing Yourself With Others
The yoga studio often feels like the stage of a beauty or talent contest, especially for new yogis. Insecurity or comparing yourself with others is a natural reaction when you try something new, but it need not take over your yoga practice. Be kind to yourself and make a point of embracing where you are in your yoga journey. Take note of the poses and lessons learned that you are proud of. And when that doesn’t work, remember that no one else is watching you because they are too absorbed worrying about themselves.
Mistake #6: Not Listening to Your Body
Your yoga instructor is there as a guide, but what they say is not law. Listen to your body first. If a pose doesn’t feel right, opt for a modified version or rest in Child’s pose. If you’re exhausted and not up for your typical Vinyasa practice, opt for Yin or Restorative Yoga. Your yoga practice is about YOU. First and foremost.
Mistake #7: Wearing Clothes You Haven’t Tried Yet to Class
There’s nothing worse than being distracted by wardrobe malfunctions during your yoga practice, whether it’s see-through yoga pants or your shirt coming over your head. Be sure to test your clothes at home before wearing them to yoga class. All you need to do is a Downward-Facing Dog, Forward Fold and Plank to realize if your wardrobe is yoga-approved.