Common Yoga Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
Starting out yoga is exciting. It can feel like discovering a whole new world and many practitioners feel like challenging themselves A LOT, even when they are just starting out.
This isn’t to say that determination is bad, it isn’t! However, trying to push your body beyond its limitations is not only dangerous, it’s even counterproductive when your goal is to improve quickly — because nothing will put your progress on pause like an injury or poor technique will.
Here are six common dangers and yoga mistakes to be aware of in yoga.
#1: Prevent inflamed wrists
Inflamed wrists are among the most common hurdles yogis, especially new yogis, face. Some styles, particularly vinyasa yoga, require a lot of strength and stability in the wrists.
So, how can you take care of your wrists in yoga?
The long-term goal is to improve their strength and flexibility levels. Of course, simply practicing yoga will help with that. Additionally, it’s also a good idea to warm up the wrists well, before every single yoga session.
To do so, you can simply interlace your fingers and roll your wrists out, “pump” your wrists by alternating between spread fingers and tight fists, extend one arm out in front of you, point the fingers up as much as possible and hold the hand with the opposite hand from above.
There are even excellent guided wrist warm-ups on YouTube available for free.
If you still end up with inflamed wrists, give them enough time to fully recover, and stick to yoga styles that aren’t hard on the wrists (for example yin yoga) for a couple of days.
#2: Don’t overstretch your hamstrings
Unfortunately, a lot of yoga styles solely focus on stretching, but not on strengthening the hamstrings. This can lead to various injuries, for example, Ischial Bursitis, sometimes also referred to as “yoga butt”.
In order to avoid these injuries it’s essential to:
- Listen to your body’s signals and not go beyond it’s limitations when stretching
- Actively strengthen your leg muscles, instead of just stretching them
For the latter, you can simply rely on additional strength training, or, if you want to use your yoga practice to strengthen your muscles, try to add in more active poses such as chair pose or goddess pose into your flows.
#3: Always warm up before your practice
As yoga involves twisting the body into some quite unnatural shapes, it is crucial to warm up before every yoga class.
There are countless amazing ways to warm up.
Here are a few classics:
- Standing in tadasana (mountain pose), start by rotating each joint a couple of times in each direction
- Do ten minutes of sun salutations
- wrist rotations, cat-cows, and cat-cow-variations such as the tiger series for example
#4: Never skip savasana
Among yoga teachers, savasana is commonly referred to as the most important yoga pose of all.
If you’re not familiar with savasana yet, it’s the final relaxation at the end of yoga class, where you just lie on the back for a couple of minutes. Even though this posture might not seem impressive or even important — it is!
Savasana allows the nervous system to really integrate all the benefits of the previous yoga practice and thus is essential for the yoga practice to have a lasting effect on the practitioner.
#5: Don’t hold your breath
Forgetting to breathe or holding your breath during poses is a very common yoga mistake. However, breath awareness is a fundamental aspect of yoga. Breathing consciously and regularly is essential in yoga, as this calms the nervous system, aiding relaxation and maintaining focus.
Consider taking classes in which every single inhalation and exhalation is cued by the teacher. Typically, that’s the case in vinyasa flow classes.
#6: Never be too shy to ask questions
Yoga teachers are there for a reason.
It’s literally their job to guide you through your yoga practice safely. If you’re ever uncertain how to correctly execute a certain movement or pose, don’t hesitate to ask them. They will be happy to help you and, if needed, give you alternative poses that work for you at this moment in time.
And if they don’t: Switch teachers!
Of course, making mistakes is pretty much inevitable when learning something new. But now that you know the six most common mistakes yoga newbies make, you’re all set to continue on your yoga journey safely.