When you first start practicing yoga, you’ll probably be eager to get the most out of the practice. However, it is important to take it slowly in the beginning and avoid simple but common mistakes made by most new yogis.
Here are 10 things to avoid so you and your fellow yogis can focus on your practice.
1. Rushing to class
A large part of yoga practice is about calming the mind and de-stressing. You can get to this place much more easily if you’re not rushing into class late. Give yourself enough time to get there; in fact, aim to arrive early.
2. Pushing yourself too far
This is simple. If you feel pain in a pose, stop. Try a modified version or take child’s pose. If you injure yourself, you won’t be able to practice at all, so make modifications when you need to.
3. Comparing yourself to others
You’ve heard this before. Your yoga practice is yours and yours alone. There’s no need to keep up with anyone else in the class. As long as you’re benefiting from the practice, you’re doing what you need to do.
4. Taking an advanced class before you’re ready
Sure, it would be amazing to master the splits or do a handstand in the first month of your yoga practice, but nothing is more frustrating than taking a class in which you have to modify every pose or even skip poses because your body is simply not ready to twist, balance, or stretch in certain ways.
5. Never attempting challenging poses
As important as it is to listen to your body and avoid what you’re not ready for, it’s equally important to venture out to the edge of your ability. If you stay completely within your comfort zone at all times, you’ll never be able to do the more challenging poses. If going upside freaks you out, try that headstand with support from the wall or your teacher.
6. Wearing clothing that is too loose or too tight
You want to be able to move comfortably in your yoga clothes, but you also want to be sure that you’re covered when you move – especially when you bend forward or turn upside down. Dress appropriately so that your attention is on the poses, not tugging down your top.
7. Not being mindful of your neighbor
In this case, being mindful is not about comparison but about respecting your neighbor’s personal space and making sure that there is enough room for both of you to practice each pose without a collision. Kicking someone in the head when raising your leg in downward dog is a real bummer!
8. Checking your cell phone during yoga class
Many of us use our phones like a third appendage. But our phones don’t belong in the studio. Not only does checking your phone during class distract you, but it distracts everyone else. Keep the phone off your mat. And if you have your stuff in the same room where everyone’s practicing, turn off your phone before class begins.
9. Practicing with socks on
Most teachers will tell you to remove your socks, but some will not interfere if you choose to keep them on. Take them off anyway. You will benefit from the direct connection with the ground, and it will be much easier to practice without slipping.
10. Leaving early
The last few minutes of a yoga class are arguably the most important. This is when you rest in savasana, lying on your back with your eyes closed. It’s the money time to relax and let the last 60 or 90 minutes of yoga integrate in your body and mind. You wouldn’t leave work without your paycheck, so don’t leave class without experiencing the serenity you’ve worked toward.
Now you are ready! With these common-sense tips, you’ll be ready for each class and get the most out of your new yoga practice. But don’t worry if you don’t get all 10 “right” every time. Every yogi is late or distracted by a fellow student once in a while!