Yoga is a great way to improve both your physical and mental health.
However, if you’re making any of these four common mistakes, you might not be getting as much out of your classes as you could be.
Read on to learn how you change your bad habits to make yoga work better for you.
1. Holding Your Breath
It’s tempting to hold your breath during challenging poses. You might even feel like holding your breath helps you stay stable and focused. But, the opposite is actually true.
If you’re holding your breath, you’re making it harder for your muscles to get the oxygen they need. If your muscles are lacking oxygen, it’s going to be harder for them to bend and support your body, meaning you’re going to find yourself doing a lot of wobbling.
Focus on taking deep, belly breaths throughout your class. Make sure your stomach fully expands as you inhale, and control the exhale to help slow down your heart rate. This will help you get the oxygen you need, and it will give you something to focus on when you’re in an extra difficult pose.
2. Overdoing It
Drop the “no pain, no gain” mindset when you step on your mat. You should challenge yourself, of course, but you also should never do anything that causes you pain.
Remember, there’s a difference between a stretch and pain that could cause a muscle strain or other injury. If you ever feel a stabbing pain, or if one of your limbs start to go numb, you need to back off.
Don’t be afraid to use props and extra tools, either. If you need blocks to reach the floor without rounding your back, grab them. If you need to wear a knee brace support sleeve because you’re recovering from an injury, don’t be afraid to wear it.
3. Eating Before Class
If you eat a big meal right before yoga class, you’re setting yourself up for cramps and gas. In addition to making yourself uncomfortable, you’re also shortchanging your muscles.
When you go to class with a full stomach, your body sends blood to the digestive system to start processing the food you just ate. This means your muscles aren’t getting as much blood sent to them as they should be, which could negatively impact your practice.
If you do feel like you need to eat something before class, pick a small snack and try to eat it about one hour before you step on your mat. This will give your body time to digest it. A good snack might be a banana with a little bit of peanut butter or some toast and a small handful of almonds.
4. Skipping Savasana
When the lights go down and everyone lies on their back to take savasana, the final resting pose, this is not a signal for you to roll up your mat and sneak out the door. Savasana is essential for cooling down the body properly.
Savasana also helps you experience more of the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga.
For some people, lying totally still on their mat is harder than any kind of arm balance or inversion. They end up skipping the pose altogether because they feel like it’s just too challenging. In reality, though, these are the people who need to prioritize savasana the most.
Are you committing any of these common yoga mistakes? Luckily, they’re all pretty easy to fix. Start making some changes today to get the most out of your yoga practice.