You may be a yoga novice or someone has been practicing yoga for a long time.... But did you know that when we practice yoga on autopilot without really paying attention to what you are doing, you might be making some major mistakes? And because you have made this a habit, you don't even realise that they are mistakes. This can cause yoga to be more harmful and ineffective rather than beneficial to you. You can even injure yourself in the worst-case scenario. However, when you practice yoga mindfully, you will get an opportunity to constantly fine-tune your practice, identify these problem-habits, correct them and improve your yoga experience. And to help you do that, we list out the most common yoga mistakes people and what you can do to fix them.
1. Distracted Mind:
It is said, "Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists." Yet like it happens with everything else in our lives, distractions never let you focus on the 'now'. A wavering mind is the worst companion to have during yoga practice. The more you are distracted or let your mind wander off, the more difficult and challenging each asana seems. You are unable to concentrate and end up with bad coordination between your body and mind.
Solution: Letting your mind go blank is definitely not easy for most people. So, an easy way to avoid distractions is to focus on what you are going through right at that moment when you are on the yoga mat. Close your eyes, focus on your posture, your body, your stretching muscles, your breathing and the sensations in your body. Listen to your teacher, if you are in a class. Listen to the rhythm of your body and before you know it, you are concentrating only on yoga and not dreaming about what's for dinner later!
2. Comparisons with other yogis:
When you are in a yoga class, often the biggest challenge comes in the form of your own need to constantly comparing yourself to the others in class. You can fight the urge to open your eyes during an asana and see if the person sitting next to you is doing better or worse than you. This defeats the entire spirit of the yoga practice.
Solution: While it is easier said than done that you shouldn't be comparing yourself with others in your yoga class. Remember, that yoga is NOT a competition. It's a way of life that should enrich your soul lets you see beyond petty things. All you have to do is make sure you close your eyes during your practice. It doesn't matter if your neighbour is more flexible than you, the only thing that should exist for you during your yoga session is you. Imagine you are alone, in a beautiful outdoor setting like a beach or in the middle of some mountains. Learn your body like its your friend. Understand and embrace its beauty and limitations and focus on making yourself feel good.
3. Forgetting to breathe:
Yes, your breathing patterns are a big part of yoga. But often, without realising it, you might be straining yourself by holding your breath in an attempt to get a yoga pose right. Many of you might even forget to breathe and hold it in as you try to stretch yourself into a challenging asana. With the irregular breathing patterns, you will find yourself getting dizzy and tired easily and will not experience that feeling of relaxation that yoga can offer you.
Solution: The fix is as easy as paying attention to your breathing during your yoga practice and if you find yourself holding it in, remember to breathe! Sometimes, counting your breathing in your head helps you slip into a natural and easy rhythm while doing yoga. On the upside, when you focus on your breathing, it also helps you keep your mind away from any distractions and lets you be completely present in the 'now'.
4. Pushing yourself too hard:
When you don't listen to your body while doing yoga, you end up pushing yourself too hard, overexerting yourself, ignoring your body's warning signs and putting yourself at the risk of injury. While some attempt asanas or stances they are not ready, others go through their yoga session too fast. Don't overdo it! That's the most common mistake a lot of people make.
Solution: Yes, you may want to progress in your yoga practice by pushing yourself during every yoga practice. But, do it gently. Don't push your body too hard or it will end up resisting you all the more. Give your body time. Take your time in mastering every pose. Yoga is no race where you have to get to any finish line. It's a way of life where you slowly train your body and mind to reach a higher consciousness. Yoga is not about the cardio or high-intensity adrenaline. It's all about taking things slow and working out harder in the process. If you treat your body right, it will respond to you the way you want it to.
5. Skipping warm up and cooldown:
A lot of people just dive into their yoga practice without any warming up, which allows your body to get used to the idea of what you will put it through. Easy warm-up exercises bring heat to your body through increased circulation and help you loosen up tense muscles. If you don't do it, you might just pull a nerve, twist a muscle or injure yourself in other ways. On another hand, a lot of people skip the cooldown part after a complete yoga session, which doesn't give the body time to relax.
Solution: Like in any form of physical exercise, your body needs to be gently told what to do before you really start doing it. So, warm up with basic stretching exercises which activate all the muscle groups and improve your circulations. Never skip the cooldown part of a yoga session like the savasana to save time. Remember that the downtime in a class gives you opportunity to regularise your breathing and go through all the things you did. You need to let your overstimulated nervous system to calm down and assimilate the benefits of the day's session.