The Top Yoga Mistakes and Bad Habits— Break These ASAP!
Bad habits are easy to all into in any area of life, and yoga is certainly no exception. It’s not that anyone means to develop bad habits, but things like laziness, lack of know-how, and lack of discipline can all contribute to their development.
In yoga, constantly falling back on bad habits can limit the positive benefits of yoga practice— and some can even be harmful to your mental or physical wellbeing. As with most things, the first step to tackling and breaking these bad habits is to gain an awareness of them. Read on to learn some of the most common bad yoga habits. How many do you do?
9 Common Yoga Mistakes and Bad Habits
Many people enjoy the peace of mind and physical benefits of yoga, but not everyone does it correctly. In fact, many people make simple mistakes that can prevent them from getting the most out of their practice. Here are nine common yoga mistakes and bad habits to avoid.
1. Only Working For The Future
Working toward a future goal isn’t a bad thing at all, but in yoga (and many other arenas of life), focusing on the end game kind of defeats the purpose of the practice at all. For example, if you’re super excited to be strong enough to do a handstand, constantly focusing on where you are in relation to that goal robs the here and now of its significance.
Yoga is a journey on which you will find both your mind and body constantly evolving. Yoga is mental, and part of the mental strength you can and will develop through yoga is the ability to accept that you will get there when you get there, wherever “there” may be. Don’t forget that a destination isn’t possible without each single step.
2. Comparing And Competing
A little competition is healthy now and then, but it has its time and place— and yoga is certainly not that place. We get it, the learning curve for yoga can be a pretty steep one, and that can be really discouraging at times. This is made even harder when your classmates are breezing through every pose while you keep toppling over. But here’s the thing: yoga is something you do for yourself.
It’s a personal journey of discovering body and mind awareness— not a place to be the “best!” The comparing is a natural instinct but we challenge you to exercise some mental agility and let that habit go. It isn’t helping you get better and is probably even holding you back from improving and from actually benefiting from your yoga practice.
3. Skipping Savasana
Look, we have no idea why anyone would want to skip Savasana (we firmly believe it’s the best part of any yoga routine), but it has come to our attention that so many people are blowing off the end of the routine! Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is the simple pose of lying on your back and being completely still. It usually wraps up a yoga class and is vital for good yoga practice.
It can be tempting to skip it if you have trouble being still with your thoughts, but this skill is central to yoga and requires practice (which is exactly why you should always do Savasana). Next time you’re tempted to skip it, try giving in for one single minute. Lie completely still, focusing on your breath, your thoughts, and the way your body feels.
4. Holding Your Breath
Somewhere along the way in human evolution we developed the natural tendency to hold our breath during extreme physical exertion. Whether that’s lifting a heavy object or holding a tricky pose, a lot of people find themselves holding their breath during the most challenging endeavors.
Breathwork is central to yoga, and with prolonged yoga practice you will begin to notice an awareness of your breath that you didn’t have before. You can actively try practicing breath awareness and control by taking meaningful breaths during challenging poses. You will likely find that your practice improves when you’re breathing intentionally.
5. Pushing Yourself Too Far
With time, you will find that prolonged yoga practice will help you gain a powerful awareness of your body and its limits. In the early days of yoga practice, however, many newbies are so eager to improve that they push themselves too far, resulting in injuries.
Instead of trying to force your body to contort in ways it’s simply not able to yet, try modifying your pose in a way that’s more comfortable. We promise that you’ll be able to do the full pose sooner than you think!
6. You’re Overthinking / Worried About What People Think
This one is especially true if you’re taking yoga classes in person, and also especially true if you’re newer to yoga (although advanced or long-practicing students can certainly be guilty of this too!). A lot of yoga requires you to simply let go— whether that’s letting go of your expectations, your fear, or even your pride, it’s a great exercise that will remain constant throughout your lifetime of yoga practice.
Some people may struggle with this, and will find that the idea of doing certain poses or exercises is way too mortifying to even fathom (especially if someone cute is in your class). But here’s the truth of the matter: people respect others that can unapologetically embrace their true selves, which includes the ability to lean into silliness sometimes.
Additionally, it’s highly unlikely that anyone in your class is even watching you during these poses, and if they do notice you, it’s probably because you’re acting like a bad sport. Fully leaning into yoga is the only way to truly improve and gain the myriad of benefits it offers. We promise you that you won’t look as silly as you feel, if that helps.
7. Anticipating What Move Comes Next
The world we live in puts a heavy emphasis on productivity and a “go! Go! Go!” Mindset, which unfortunately can infiltrate into our yoga practice. Many people will find themselves wondering what pose is up next or moving on from the current pose too soon, but this is bad for a few reasons. The first is that it prevents you from exercising the mental muscles that yoga relies on.
During yoga you need to practice mindfulness, tranquility, and full acceptance of the present moment. Each pose is an opportunity to take stock of how your body feels, how you can adjust or improve your stance, and how you’re breathing. Try your best not to spend the entire yoga class thinking about your next move, because it will rob you of the true experience of yoga. Additionally, if you’re moving into new poses before the instructor tells you to it can be disruptive to the energy flow of your classmates.
8. Peeking At Your Phone
We’re all guilty of loving our phones a bit too much, and sometimes it truly feels like an addiction we can’t shake. Of all the habits on this list, picking up the phone during yoga practice is possibly the worst of all. It completely disrupts your session, disturbs your mental space, and can negate the stress-relieving benefits of yoga practice.
We understand it can be tempting to check the time or send a quick text or email when you’re sitting out of a tough pose or relaxing in Savasana, but in order to truly get the most out of your yoga you need to mindfully disengage from technology and leave your phone behind. If you find yourself struggling with this all the time, try turning off your phone or even leaving it in another room before you start your session.
9. Letting Fear Hold You Back
We know that in the previous article we said you shouldn’t push yourself too far, but the flip side of that coin is not pushing yourself at all. For many people, yoga is a hazy space where you never feel quite ready to engage in the advanced poses, but you like the comfort and sense of accomplishment that comes with perfectly executing some of the poses you’ve been practicing for a while.
Many people also come to yoga practice with the belief that they aren’t strong enough to do certain poses, only to shock themselves when they find it’s actually easy for them! Don’t shy away from the tough poses, but instead test them out with a modified version or without your full weight.
Bad habits are a normal part of life, but learning the discipline to correct them is a great way to strengthen your mind and improve your yoga practice. If you find that you’re guilty of one or more of these bad yoga habits, we challenge you to work on mindfully correcting them so that you can become the best you you can be.
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