The most common yoga mistakes we make have nothing to do with our physical alignment. It’s all about our attitude towards our teachers, our expectations, and ourselves. These do not apply to anyone subset of yogis, new or experienced–they can impact all of us.
I hope these tips are helpful so we can more quickly avoid the pitfalls and get on with the truest benefits of yoga.
1. Relying On Your Teacher For All The Answers
Don’t believe the hype and get caught buying into the social media version of your teacher. There are just as many dysfunctional yoga teachers are there are other types of people. Your yoga teacher is just a person; a real, imperfect human being just like you. Maybe they have more awareness of who they are, but this doesn’t mean they have it all figured out.
Your yoga teachers are not doctors. They are not priests. They are not therapists. Seek professional advice from professionals in those fields, not from your yoga teacher.
2. Giving Yourself Prerequisites For Yoga
There are no conditions to meet before going to your first class. There are no excuses. Amongst the trending excuses: I am not flexible enough to do yoga; I am not thin enough, I don’t have the right clothing.
Let me announce this clearly: Yoga will help you become more flexible, mentally and physically. You do not need to be flexible to do yoga. While owning a yoga studio for 12 years, this was the number one excuse people had for not trying yoga sooner.
And certainly, there are no Yoga Fashion Police. Do not feel like you have to wear a uniform to class based on whatever retailer is popular today. Be yourself and wear what makes you comfortable. Yoga is not only not competitive, it is non-comparative.
3. Prioritizing Perfection
The worst form of self-abuse is perfectionism. Do not force that unhealthy habit into your yoga. Instead, use yoga practice as a means to change this habit into one of acceptance.
Look around the room now and again and notice how different everyone looks in the same pose. That’s our nature.
Allow your yoga to be messy, and maybe you’ll be less critical towards yourself off your mat. ~Silvia Mordini
We are different and everyone will find poses that fit their bodies more easily than others. And everyone will find poses that inherently challenge him or her and don’t make immediate sense. Don’t hold yourself back from trying.
Life is messy and there’s no need to use yoga as another means to overanalyze yourself. Develop intelligent alignment but don’t “technique” the poses to death. By all means, enlighten up!
4. Making It Too Serious
I’m no yoga purist. I’ve been teaching for 20 years, and a lot has changed. You know what? That’s ok. This ancient practice requires discipline and commitment, but not at the cost of joy. The point of yoga is to help you recognize that happiness is your birthright and peel away all the things that prevent you from knowing this. Trying your best doesn’t equal suffering.
If having music in class helps you have some fun, that’s great. If practicing in silence with only the poetry of the teacher’s voice cuing you is a beautiful experience, then that’s great too. Find what works to offer you balance between effort and pleasure.
Yoga practice is important but not serious. Practice is too important to be serious. ~Judith Lasater
Applying these tips will help you sustain your practice for years and years to come. They will also help you be a kinder person towards yourself and the world around you. And that’s what living your yoga is all about. Love yourself, love your day, love your life!