New age no more! Yoga has become much more mainstream in recent years. With more people trying this discipline out, more people are making health-risking mistakes. Here are six mistakes to avoid during yoga.
Forget to breathe – Deep and rhythmic breathing is one of the most important fundamentals in yoga. Deep breathing during your yoga moves helps oxygenate your muscles, keeps you relaxed and focused and increases your centered-ness. Many people who practice yoga get caught up in the moves and forget to breathe, while others struggle to take deep breaths during the exercise. If you’re having trouble breathing during yoga, take a step back from the difficulty of the exercises to re-center yourself.
Improper diet – You need to eat the right kind of foods before you hit the mat. Some things to look for are foods that offer hydration, fructose (for energy), vitamin C, and fiber. A few pre-yoga foods include apples, almonds, oatmeal, and lemonade diet powder.
No focus – Yoga without focus is stretching. The best yoga sessions happen when you are fully engaged in the exercises and aren’t practicing on autopilot. If you find your mind wandering to your to-do list during your yoga session, chances are you need to mix it up a bit. Learn a new pose or take your session to a new area to get you back on the right track.
You ignore your body – “No pain, no gain?” Not in yoga. Pain is nature’s way of telling you that your body has stretched too far. Yoga should be painless, and if you experience pain or pulling, you may be doing a pose the wrong way or performing above your skill level. Additionally, your body will tell you if you need a rest day or if you need to cut your session short. Pay attention to what your body is telling you; it will save you from injury and will also help you feel more connected and aware.
Follow your teacher to a tee – If you’re part of a yoga class, you might look to your teacher as a mentor and guru for your yoga sessions. It’s great to learn from and follow someone who knows the ins and outs of yoga, but following your teacher blindly can lead to injury. If you feel like your session is becoming too difficult, exercise your right to modify your poses; don’t’ feel like you have to imitate your instructor just to please him or her. Go at your own pace, and if your instructor is pushing you to do a pose you’re not comfortable doing, find a new instructor!
Too much, too fast – Yoga is a great, low-impact exercise, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Like with any exercise, your body needs time to rest between yoga sessions. Think of yoga in terms of strength training – if you plan to do sessions daily, alternate types of yoga or poses that alternate muscle groups in order to avoid overtaxing and injuring your body.
Compete with others – You wouldn’t dream of competing with an Olympic runner or playing football with an NFL pro. Yoga has the same theory. Each person practicing a sport has a different skill level, and this is especially true in community yoga classes or classes taught at local gyms, where people with a variety of skill levels exercise together. Comparing yourself to others in the class gets in the way of your own journey for self-discovery, an important part of yoga, and keeps you from getting everything you can out of the discipline.
About the Author- Kennith Campbell is a personal training specializing in slideboard exercises. He enjoys sharing his passion for fitness and making the world a healthier place.