Sometimes I hear comments about yoga that make me wonder where the heck people get these crazy ideas. It’s a game of telephone gone awry. Frankly, there are so many misconceptions about yoga that I could probably write a thesis. However, today I want to address 7 common yoga mistakes because they are totally wrong, or outdated.
In a previous post I covered the big mistake that most people assume about yoga in that it’s just stretching, and all about the poses. When that’s actually just a fraction of a yoga practice. If you want to learn more, check out this post. To learn more about 7 yoga mistakes to avoid when sharing about yoga watch the video, or read on!
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7 Common Yoga mistakes to avoid
The yoga mistakes in this post are less about poses and more about ideas people get about yoga. Think about the things you hear about yoga that make you go “huh?”. Or in my case, make my head twirl around like the girl from the exorcist. So in no particular order here are 7 common yoga mistakes to avoid.
1 – You have to be flexible to do yoga
Oh boy. If I had a penny for every time someone said “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga”. Just like you eat to stop feeling hungry, one of the reasons we do yoga is to get more flexible. As well as help our mobility, stability, balance, strength and so much more. There are no pre-requisites to doing yoga. You definitely don’t need to be flexible to start.
2 – No pain no gain
For a long time in the fitness world, there has been a “no pain, no gain” mentality. Thankfully, many of us are wise to this now and realize pain is NOT a good thing. Pain is your indicator that you have gone into the “pain cave”. Pushing through into pain during a pose is not going to get you more flexible quicker, and could actually set you back due to injury. Back off, step back, and stay on the soft side of the pose.
3 – Using props is cheating
In the same vein of outdated information, so many people seem to view using props as “cheating” or “easy”. Using props in your yoga poses is essential for a mindful practice. If your goal is to muscle through, without care or attention then sure, don’t use blocks. If you want a mindful, practice that is somatic and insightful use props! This applies double if the pose is causing pain. Use props for a pain-free modification
4 – Judging & Comparing
Ever been on your mat in a pose but looking at what everyone else is doing, and getting down on yourself for being the Tin Man in a room of Gumby’s? Stop getting caught up in the comparison trap and be in YOUR practice. Admittedly not succumbing to self-judgment is a tricky one. We all do it at some point, but getting in your head in judgement means you are not being present in your practice. As Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparrison is the thief of joy”.
5 – Subscribing to “one-alignment for all”
One reason I spend so much time on my tutorials is my insane desire to include options, modifications and variations. Yoga pose alignment cues were created for a particular body type, with long lean bodies that practiced for hours a day, everyday. How many of us can honestly say we fit into that category? Our bodies are all different. In shape, size, anatomy, sex, health, and mobility. Not to mention flexibility, range of movement or strength. So why do we think that we need to mimic some “ideal”? There is a reason my mentor says “teach people, not poses”. Before you get the idea that I somehow have this “ideal yoga body”, I don’t. My torso is long, my limbs are short. There are poses I absolutely HAVE to use props and adjust the pose alignment. One size does not fit all!
6 – Holding your breath
One frequent question I get asked about yoga is “when should I breathe”. My answer: all the time! For heaven’s sake stop getting caught up in when you should breathe and just breathe. In a vinyasa class there is movement with breath But again, just like with alignment and props, if it’s too much to think about just breathe. Don’t overthink it! If you’re interested in breathwork try a pranayama practice. Notice your breath when you’re still, then work on breath with movement.
7 – Skipping savasana
This is a mistake I wrote about previously, but one that bears repeating. If you’re skipping savasana then you are missing out on the best yoga asana. Period. Many of us need the health benefits of yoga, like reducing stress and anxiety. This means relaxing more and doing less. This is why savasana is the toughest pose, because our body is still and we are left with our minds.
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- Are you making any of these mistakes?
- Were there any things on this list that surprised you?
- What other misconceptions do you have about yoga?
This was such an informative post, thank you! I have always wanted to try yoga but was one of those people who believed I might be too big or not flexible enough so this has definitely made me rethink! I think I should just go for it and give it a try! x
I loved reading this and with being newish to yoga completely agree. I am definitely not the most flexible but absolutely love yoga
Honestly, I never bought into the no pain no gain thing for certain types of exercise. It can cause an injury and mean you’ll have to take a break from exercising.
I’d definitely have to use props to do some of the moves because at the moment I’m not very flexible, but I know yoga is one of the things I need to do in order to get more flexible x
I’m actually going to start doing yoga soon! These are great tips, especially the breathing one, I’ve done yoga in the past, and always got confused with it!
I have started to do a bit of yoga in the house. And my problem is that I always forget to breathe.
I used to love doing yoga, I found it quite relaxing, I’ve heard recently though that if you are hypermobile you should actually be careful doing it, I must look into that more.
I have never tried Yoga but I was all about the ‘no pain and no gain’ mentality. So you’ve taught me something.
I am desperate to get back to exercise after a nasty fall at the end of January. I really must try yoga x