Yoga is a practice that can help center you and improve your balance–mentally and physically. While yoga is an all-comers-welcome kind of activity, no one starts out good at it. Like anything else worth having, it takes practice and repetition to get the most benefit. Just remember, says yoga instructor Jason Freskos, yoga is a practice that encourages “letting go”. So when you make mistakes don’t beat yourself up–note them, learn from them, thank them for teaching you, and move on.
If you find yourself making any of these common mistakes while you’re trying yoga classes on for size, don’t worry, you’re not alone. These are very common mistakes and easily fixed! Read on for advice straight from a practicing yoga teacher.
Don’t Hold Your Breath Pleads Jason Freskos
One of the most common missteps that Jason Freskos sees in class is beginners who hold their breath. It’s a natural response to trying to regain your balance, pushing through strain, concentrating, or trying to calm down, says Freskos. But, even though it’s a natural instinct, holding your breath has the exact opposite effect that you want in a yoga practice.
Holding your breath creates stress and tension in your body and encourages the build-up of lactic acid, which will make it even harder to stretch and balance. If you’re holding your breath, you’re pushing too hard, says the instructor. If you’re struggling to keep up or can’t focus on moving and breathing at the same time, Freskos suggests setting in child’s pose or tailor pose and focusing on your breath.
“Always choose breathing over a new pose or getting it ‘right’,” says Jason Freskos. “Your breath is what leads your body, it is your foundation. Focus on that and the rest will follow.”
Use Modifications When You Need Them
Again, yoga is about finding a stretch and flow that’s right for your body. If yoga hurts–especially for beginners–you’re doing it wrong, says Jason Freskos. Most classes will offer straps, blocks, neck props, towels, pillows, and other devices meant to support your body and help you achieve the pose without putting damaging strain on your body.
A stretch is just as good for you if you’re getting it with a modified pose, says Freskos. This is especially important if you have suffered an injury or are dealing with conditions like scoliosis or arthritis. Don’t push through the pain. Modify the pose until you feel a deep stretch, but it’s not painful.
Protect Your Wrists
Many positions in yoga put pressure on our wrists that we’re not used to. And with many workers in our digital-geared world suffering from carpal tunnel, it’s especially important to be mindful of your hand placement, says Jason Freskos.
Try to protect your wrists by pushing back into your feet, strengthening your core muscles, and otherwise balancing your weight within your body advises Freskos. Again, if you feel true pain, stop the pose immediately, and if you are in a class ask your teacher how you can modify or correct your posture.