The popularity of yoga only continues to expand as more and more embrace the discipline for their health and wellbeing. Whether looking to lose weight with low impact movements, achieve maximum flexibility while having fun, or find peace within the whirlwinds of the mind, a yoga class is a safe place where one can realize these goals.

But no matter what your current level of expertise, there is always room to improve your efforts. Practice makes perfect, so consider the following common yoga mistakes and use them to adjust your motions until you unlock your peak potential.

1. Do Not Skip the Basics

Yoga is called a discipline for a reason. If you don’t put in the time to train your breathing and learn the core poses, then your body may not be prepared and you won’t fully comprehend the instructions. Start with a beginners class and never jump ahead.

2. You’re Pushing Too Hard

This is a personal journey which everyone explores at their own pace. The process should be a natural and enjoyable one, hence why if you find yourself forcing a pose then you may need to step back and reevaluate your motives. Connect with your body and feel the movements out. Find the limits of what can only be achieved now, then stick to them until the next opening becomes available. If it does not happen today, then let it be.

3. You’re Not Pushing Hard Enough

At the same time, if every yoga session is basically a repeat of the last, then something is wrong and you run the risk of losing interest. Always seek your full potential by challenging yourself with new poses, setting achievable goals, and perhaps joining a more intense class. Remember: your practice must grow like a flower. Effortlessly yet determined.

4. You’re Suffering Through an Injury

Yoga is the perfect exercise to speed up your rehabilitation, but this does not mean you should simply force your way through any agony. Always ensure that your teacher is aware of your traumas, and don’t be shy to utilize braces to lessen pressure on wrists or knees. Yoga blocks can also be a back-saver. And remember: just because your teacher tells you to do something, does not mean you have to do it! If it hurts, then stop immediately.

5. You’re Comparing Yourself to Others

Everyone is on their own adventure. Their bodies, their skill sets, and their experiences are all going to produce different results. Nobody is better or worse than anybody else. No one is equal, and therefore, everyone is equal. Use yourself as your own benchmark. This is not a competition.

6. You’re Holding Your Breath

The focus on your breathing is arguably the most important component of your yoga practice. Developing an acute awareness of the respiratory system will not only bring your mind back to your mat, but the oxygen flow will also prevent you from asphyxiating and passing out on your face! If you catch yourself holding your breath during one of the more demanding postures, then gently resume slow and deep nasal inhalations until you eventually break this habit.

7. You’re Eating Too Much Before Class

A full stomach may limit your movements and certain poses could be closed off to you. However, this does not mean that you should starve yourself either! Rather eat a smaller meal an hour or so before your class, as this will provide your body with enough energy to see the session through. Good food choices would include bananas, nuts, or some avocado on whole wheat toast.

8. You’re Not Asking Enough Questions

Your instructor is there for a reason, so use them! Stay after class and discuss your concerns, if not with your teacher, then with your fellow yogis, as this will build strong social connections and spread knowledge throughout the group. You are paying money for this opportunity, so make the most of it.

9. You’re Not Cooling Down

Any athlete will attest to the value of a post-workout cooldown, hence why it’s bothersome how many yoga students skip this procedure to rush on with their day. It’s important to note that Savasana is still a yoga pose, one which lowers your body temperature and normalizes your mind to process the journey. And just like any other pose, it takes practice to master.

10. You’re Not Having Fun

Above all else, you need to leave each class feeling happy and relaxed. If this is frequently not the case, then you’re probably taking your sessions too seriously! Let go and find pleasure in this exercise, focusing on your love for yourself and a respect for your community. Namaste!

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