My 5 Biggest Yoga Mistakes
We all make mistakes when we’re new to something. Of course, these “mistakes” are often the things that give us the feedback we need to learn something new. I’ve found this to be especially true in the practice of yoga! We fall down a million times before we learn how to stand on our heads.I am so thankful for each and every little falter along the way, for it’s through these mistakes that I’ve become the yoga student I am today–imperfect, with lots more lessons ahead, but with far more understanding than I was when I started.
Here are the 5 biggest mistakes I’ve made and seen many of my own students make when practicing yoga:
1. Doing too much too soon
I was that student who would turn red and pull as hard as I could on my yoga strap because I was determined to get my forehead to my knee in a seated forward bend. It was ironic, then, that I actually got there faster when I learned to relax and soften into the stretch.
2. Comparing myself to others
You actually CAN make yoga into a competitive sport if you really want to. All you have to do it make sure that you’re the strongest, stretchiest, most balanced, do all the poses perfect for the whole class every single time! It’s a good thing I was surrounded by so many experienced yoga students early on when I started because it humbled me. After a few classes of being bummed out about not having the best poses, I stopped watching what everyone else was doing and actually started to focus in on my own practice.
3. Giving up too soon
I’m naturally tight because of all the strength training I’ve done for over 20 years, which means strength-based poses like handstands came easier to me than most people. But things like backbends and splits, I had to practice for a good three years before I understood the concept of opening up instead of muscling through poses. In fact, in the early days of my yoga practice I got so frustrated that whenever my teachers insisted on teaching backbends, I simply refused to participate. I had one half-hearted attempt at full wheel, and plopped down on my head. It took a long time, but when I finally understood the importance of back bends they quickly became a fun challenge–I think because they were so hard for me learn I feel a surge of accomplishment every time I feel when I press up into full wheel.
4. Judging others
It’s so easy to look around the studio and think to yourself: “She’s obviously just here because yoga is trendy” or “He has no concept of the spiritual part of the practice.” But you know what? It really doesn’t matter what brings someone to a yoga class. All that matters is that we’re all here together, seeking out something to make our lives fuller and happier. I have nothing but respect for someone who takes their health and happiness into their own hands. When I realized this, I gained a greater understanding for the practice.
5. Wishing for things to be different
I still make this mistake on a daily basis. I wish I had more time for my practice. I wish I had started sooner. I wish I were more dedicated. I wish I were more deeply steeped in my local yoga community. But I also realize that yoga isn’t about creating a perfect life for yourself, it’s about enjoying the life that you’re living right now. So, I try to enjoy the yoga sessions I manage to squeeze into my schedule, the time I get to sit down with my computer and reflect on my practice through the pictures and videos I take, and all the little things that give me joy in my everyday life.
What mistakes have you made in your yoga practice and how have you learned to embrace those mistakes? I'd love to know.
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