Practicing yoga may seem easy.
Many newcomers may say, “Oh it’s just like exercising, except a bit slower.”
However, the truth of the matter is that no constructive or beneficial exercise is ever easy.
Many people are under the false impression that yoga exercises are gentler, and hence, safer in every aspect. However, there are plenty of mistakes yogis might end up making that would make them suffer serious injuries.
It is always advisable to approach a professional instructor when you begin with the exercises. They have the needed “eye-of-an-expert” that will judge your moves and rectify any mistakes you might make during the practice.
And, believe me, there are plenty of things that could go wrong when it comes to yoga.
Here, are some of the most common mistakes new yogis and yoginis are likely to make:
1. Forgetting to Breathe.
Many newcomers tend to push themselves to the point where they are panting or completely out of breath.
This may be acceptable in normal rigorous exercises, but not when it comes to yoga. You need to really observe your breath with each move.
Don’t hold your breath or overexert yourself and end up causing your breath to become shallow and intermittent.
Lack of breath can cause dizziness and activate the nervous system causing stress and anxiety. If that happens, it means you need to move slower until your breathing is natural and at ease.
2. Pushing too hard.
Everyone likes to progress faster, but keep in mind that yoga requires a lot of patience and perseverance.
The idea is to exercise your body while still maintaining a peaceful mind. The body needs to be treated gently so as to protect it from any kind of injury.
If you push yourself too hard during yoga, the body will react by tightening and becoming less flexible.
You need to listen to the subtle signs your body gives you and respond accordingly.
3. Ditching the Warm Up.
You have to introduce your body to the practice before you begin. Let it know what you want from it.
To do this, you need to begin with easy warm up exercises that will get the body all warmed up and the blood running.
Warming up with simple poses and slow stretches are good ways to start building up.
4. Doing it too often.
When you’re a newbie, you need to give your body the chance to first get used to the practice.
This means you have to take it one step at a time. Don’t rush into it by practicing yoga everyday for extended hours. Give your muscles a chance to recover from those micro-tears that arise during workout.
Also, it’s better to take beginners level classes before you jump to a class full with an advanced level crowd.
If it is needed, combine it with another cardiovascular exercise (i.e., biking, running, swimming) on days that you don’t do yoga.
5. Practicing with a full stomach.
Just like any other exercise, yoga requires a half or near-empty stomach before you begin.
A full stomach demands a lot of blood supply and energy to digest and obtain the nutrients from the food you just ate.
This means that less blood supply or energy is left for your muscles, leaving you tired and exhausted in just a few minutes.
This doesn’t mean that you should appear to class hunger stricken either, because undoubtedly, food is fuel.
Just make sure you have eaten at least one hour (or more) before your practice. A banana, peanut butter or nuts are a great combination of nutrients that will give you an energy boost.
In a class where there are 30 or so other yogis/yoginis, everyone could be at different levels depending on their body’s capabilities. However, you can’t possibly compare your body to another body because yoga requires extreme devotion and dedication!
This means that you have to stay focused on your own individual needs rather than the partner next to you who seems to be moving fast.
Competing with others will cause unnecessary stress and overexertion on the body, eventually leading you to give up on the exercise.
Acknowledge the fact that everybody’s needs are different and thus should be treated differently.
7. Not asking for Assistance.
If your teacher seems to be wandering around at the back section while you’re a confused newbie stuck at the front, forced to look right and left for assistance, you’re definitely doing it wrong.
Don’t stay quiet.
You paid the instructor, didn’t you?
If you’re lost, raise your hand and ask for help. Let her know you are new and need extra guidance.
Allow her to help you by simply asking for what you need.
Author: Madeleine Allan
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Steven Depolo/Flickr