Some of us might have been practicing yoga for a while now, but how do we know if we’re truly benefiting from it? When we put our yoga practice on autopilot, we often tend to overlook our mistakes or fall into ruts or bad habits. Continuing to make the same yoga class mistakes, instead of correcting them, might hurt our form and awareness level, not to mention raising the risk of injury.
However, practiced mindfully yoga is something we can constantly improve in and enjoy. We can benefit from continually fine-tuning our efforts and maintaining a healthy understanding of how our actions are helping or holding us back. With that said, here are a few common yoga mistakes to avoid as the year kicks off to enhance yoga’s benefits and reduce any risk of injury.
1. Wavering Mind
When we do yoga, our focus must be completely on the moves we’re performing. When done mindfully, there is complete coordination between body and mind, which is imperative in deriving maximum benefits from yoga. Without mindfulness, we’re simply stretching muscles without a whole lot of benefit. It’s important to immerse ourselves in the present moment and focus on every single body movement.
Yoga is a practice that must be practiced consistently for optimum results. “Results” shouldn’t be the main goal in practicing, but by being inconsistent in yoga practice, we can shock our bodies the next time we jump back on the mat after a break. Inconsistency is a big yoga mistake to avoid, but even just a few benefits of yoga a day can keep our bodies and minds moving in the right direction. My yoga experience tells me that consistency is imperative to benefit from yoga and that each session builds on the previous one. Try to hit the mat every day.
3. Pushing Too Hard
When it comes to yoga, sometimes less is more. True, it helps to push ourselves beyond mild discomfort, but not at the risk of ignoring what our bodies tell us. If we push too hard and ignore our body’s warning signs, we risk hurting ourselves. It’s important to feel internal sensations and respect the body to prevent unnecessary injuries. Instead of always pushing, we should focus on assessing how our body reacts to each pose and respond to our heightened awareness.
Just because a super-flexible friend can perform any asana in impressive fashion, getting overzealous with comparisons and trying to keep up can end with a crash landing. Silly comparisons with peers is by far one of the biggest yoga mistakes people commit. Remember, it’s a personal practice because, well, it’s personal. The extent to which we stretch and push ourselves depends on our individual bodies and physical limitations. Yoga is about focusing on your individual body, not your friend’s.
5. Yoga on a Full Stomach
True, some yoga poses aid in digestion, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to show up to a yoga class on a full stomach. Food is fuel, but only if eaten at right times. We suggest our students eat at least one hour before they come to yoga class. A full stomach makes it uncomfortable to practice different poses while funneling blood supply to the stomach, leaving muscles with little energy to perform successful yoga asanas. Yoga’s just not that much fun with too much food in the tank.
By keeping these five tips in mind we’ll be well on our way to enjoying a wonderful start to our yoga practice in the New Year! Stop by our studio or view our online schedule to sign up for a yoga class in Delray Beach!