- Exercise & Fitness
How to Avoid the Most Common Yoga Mistakes
Yoga is more popular today than ever before, but starting a successful yoga practice can be tricky. Read on to learn how to avoid some of the most common mistakes beginners make when learning yoga.
The most common yoga mistake is failing to clarify what you hope to accomplish from your study of yoga asanas (poses). Knowing what you want from your yoga routine is the key to forming a successful practice. Do you want to improve your flexibility? Do you want to reduce your stress level? Are you interested in yoga for weight loss? There are many different yoga styles, so having a good idea of what you want to accomplish is essential.
If possible, it's best to take a yoga class from a live instructor so you can receive personalized assistance to learn how to perform the asanas correctly. If this is not an option, however, there are many different yoga DVDs available to help you get started. Try renting a few at your local video store to see what appeals to you before you begin to build your workout library.
Remembering to Breathe
Forgetting to breathe is a fairly common yoga mistake that newcomers make when trying to master a pose. They are concentrating so hard on trying to physically perform the asana that they end up holding their breath without even realizing it. However, proper breathing is essential if you wish to obtain the maximum benefits from your yoga practice. Pranayama, a yoga term for the regulation of breath, improves and strengthens the respiratory system while increasing vitality and energy levels. Correct yogic breathing can help to reduce anxiety and panic attacks as well as decrease high blood pressure.
Yoga may look easy from a distance, but it's important to follow a few safety precautions to avoid injury. For example, neck injuries are a common problem among those who attempt to push their yoga practice too far beyond their skill level. When your neck is normally very tense, whether from inactivity or stress, the muscles are short and tight. This limits your ability to bring your head toward your chest. Forcing a tight neck into a shoulder stand or another similar pose can cause cervical vertebrae discs to bulge or herniate. This is an injury that could possibly take many months to heal.
Bikram yoga, a style of yoga practiced in a 105 degrees Fahreheit room with 40% humidity, carries special risks for those who are new to yoga. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and avoid eating for a few hours before your class. Wear as little clothing as possible and notify the instructor immediately if you start to feel like you are going to pass out.
Yoga is a great way for expectant mothers to keep in shape, but it's important to follow a specific prenatal yoga routine instead of traditional yoga practice. For example, doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid poses that stretch the abdominal muscles too far.
The pregnancy hormone relaxin, which helps the uterus to expand, also acts on connective tissues to make expectant mothers more likely to tear or strain muscles.
Visit the Yoga Journal website for demonstrations of various yoga poses, DVD recommendations, and more.