I talk about yoga often; actually, I talk about yoga on the excessive end. It played a huge role in my recovery process, and I have witnessed its positive influence on others in residential treatment suffering from drug addiction.
I attribute my continual success to having yoga in my daily life, even when I was no longer dealing with the pain and cravings that often accompany addictions. It is more than an exercise; it is a way of life. In the beginning, there were things that I did wrong both physically and mentally. Honesty is something I take seriously around here, and today, I will share with you my honest yoga mistakes that you might be making, too. While I am far from perfecting yoga, here are nine common yoga mistakes that will cost you.
1. Holding Your Breath
This is a huge one that I have to remind myself of constantly. Taking deep breaths can decrease pain, even during childbirth, and will help you loosen areas that you naturally tighten.
2. Eating Beforehand
Food is awesome. I enjoy eating, but food and yoga do not mix. I wish I could eat a giant bowl of ice cream and then jump right into my yoga positions, but the thought alone makes my stomach want to cry. Try to leave the snacks and meals for an hour or two before doing any exercise. It will keep the digestion from impacting your routine and also prevent any sluggish feelings.
3. Worrying About Others
The first few times I went to yoga class, I couldn’t help but stare at everyone around me. I was worried about how I looked compared to them, and it kept me from enjoying yoga and fully experiencing it. I wasn’t as flexible or strong, and even though I looked silly attempting more difficult positions, it shouldn’t have mattered. Yoga isn’t about other people; it is about you, your body, and your soul.
4. Pushing Your Body Too Hard
This goes along with the last one. In my attempt to keep up with others, I pushed myself way too hard those first few lessons. Unlike other workouts, breathing hard and pushing your limits is not the goal. Every time you do a yoga routine, you will get better and better, and there is no need to rush it.
5. Skipping Moves
I am not someone who can sit still for hours on end. I am a goer and constantly on the move. Yoga was something that seemed strange to me. I remember learning the moves and finding ones that I completely enjoyed and others that really didn’t do much for me – besides make me impatient. I skipped those first moves along with the slow ones and jumped right on to my favorites. It wasn’t until I did the slower moves that I came to appreciate yoga entirely. I had to change mentally, and it helped me in other areas of my life.
6. Flying Through Poses
Yoga is not a race. If you only have 15 minutes to do a workout, don’t try to squeeze in an hour’s worth of positions. You won’t experience that peaceful yoga feeling, and you’ll miss out on truly strengthening your muscles.
7. Showing Off
Nothing is more annoying than a show-off. Sure, I am proud of myself when I accomplish a more difficult position, but that is not what yoga is about. Be proud of yourself, but don’t brag to others.
8. Not Listening to Your Body
Your body will tell you if a stretch is too far or you’re not quite ready for a position. If you don’t listen to your body, you could spend the next day sore or hurt.
9. Not Completing the Final Relaxation
This is one that many people brush aside. After completing the yoga routine, they leave the last relaxation out. It is what brings your body back down and can keep soreness away, but most importantly, it helps guide you gently back to reality. The final relaxation is when I remind myself of who I am, my goals, and why I do yoga. I am not perfect, but every time I finish a yoga session, I feel a peace that gets me through my daily struggles.
By Michelle Conway
Photo by: Ian Bothwell (Flickr)