I would like to say that the most common mistakes in yoga would begin with the physical asanas, but I would have to reconsider and say that most of the mistakes begin in the mind. So often we only remember that yoga is about how well we execute a pose, but actually, the real work is what happens on the inside.
1. Yoga is not for you because you are not flexible/strong enough
I can’t tell you how much I hear a person tell me that they can’t do yoga because they can’t even touch their toes. If you haven’t been a physically active person in the last few years of your life, it’s most likely that you won’t be able to touch your toes before starting a yoga practice. This is normal and this is why you do yoga anyways. Touching your toes may seem like a big feat for most people – and it is and it is one of the first things that will come once you start a regular yoga practice. Remember, nobody starts a yoga practice as a master, and if you do/did then maybe you have previous skillsets in other sports that have made your physical asana practice more accessible. Don’t be discouraged, everyone is on their own journey. We may begin at different starting points, but in the end, the practice is and always will be for everyone.
2. Comparing yourself to everyone else
Sometimes we mistaken yoga to be a sport and/or a competition. You arrive to your yoga class and easily get discouraged by the level of your peers. Remember, you are a beginner! It’s only normal that other yogis will have a more advanced practice than you, especially if they have been practicing longer. You will only be a beginner once, so at least enjoy the ride. In other cases, maybe you have been practicing for a while and you start to compete with your peers, wanting to be “better” than them. This is also a mind-set that we should avoid as well. This is the ego talking and we want to bring ourselves to a level where we don’t feed that ego. We want to allow ourselves to understand that we are all equal. Even if your asana practice may be more advanced than another, it does not mean you are a better or more superior or more enlightened person than another.
3. Pushing yourself past your limits
With all the popular accounts on Instagram these days, we have so many inputs about what our yoga practice should look like. We want to be able to touch our heads in a scorpion pose or lift that leg up in a one-legged crow, but all comes with practice, time and dedication. Don’t push yourself farther than you are able. This is where injury to starts to come in, when we start to recklessly push ourselves into a posture that is not readily available for us just yet. Enjoy the process, there is no possible way to rush it.
4. Limiting beliefs about what is possible
Some people try to push themselves too much and others put drastically limiting beliefs on themselves on what they can achieve. Your mental power is stronger than you think. If you believe that something is not possible, it sure as hell will never be possible. If you believe that anything is possible, you will find yourself with a world of possibilities and achieving things you only ever dreamed of. Just like everything in life, we need a balance – we can’t jump ahead too fast and we can’t stay behind thinking we are not capable enough. Keeping an open mind while listening to your body is the best thing we can do ourselves for our practice.
5. Not Breathing
The breath is the most key significant factor of our yoga practice. It is what differentiates yoga from being another form of exercise. Listen to your teacher when they cue for each inhale and exhale. It’s common that most beginners believe they are breathing properly (because why not? We need to breathe to live and ‘obviously’ I am breathing… right?) but understanding the proper Ujayyi breath takes a while to sink in. Not just for beginners but even for advanced practitioners. The breath is what builds and encourages the free flow of our vital energy, our prana. It’s what keeps us in the present moment. So during your next yoga practice, be consciously aware of your breath. Give importance to it and see if it doesn’t bring your practice to another level.
We hope that you find comfort in reading these most common mistakes when beginning your yoga practice. Know that you are not alone and that many people often make the mistakes as you do. Just remember that yoga is a transformational journey. A journey that cannot be rushed, so take your time and just enjoy the ride. <3