Are you brand new to yoga? If so, you might be making some of these common mistakes, from when and how to practice yoga to the moves themselves. By avoiding these mistakes, you will be more inclined to continue practicing yoga (as a way of life) and decrease your chances of causing injuries.

Do not practice asanas merely by looking at pictures and diagrams since they leave much unexplained.” ~Yogeswar

Trying to Learn from a Book (or Video)

Unless you are taking a course designed for beginners that include one-on-one assistance, it’s highly unlikely that a book, a YouTube, or an Instagram video will properly prepare you to learn and execute yoga like a pro. Add insult to injury; most newbies are terrified of visiting a yoga studio and taking a yoga class, especially if they start to compare themselves to their yoga neighbors. It is too easy in a group setting to lose one’s confidence when surrounded by others who appear to be more flexible, skilled, etc.

Learn them [asanas] first from a competent teacher and practice the basic asanas daily according to your [own] schedule.” ~Yogeswar

Doing Yoga Poses Incorrectly

The other common mistake with yoga newbies tends to be with the poses themselves. For the most part, every pose has a preferred technique and depends on bodily structure; pose adjustments are often necessary. For example, Mountain Pose (or Tadasana in Sanskrit) is a simple standing pose that can easily be performed incorrectly. Several errors include failing to relax the jaw, neck, and shoulders, failing to engage the abdominal muscles and upper thighs, and sloughing instead of maintaining a flat back.

Overworking your muscle in your anxiety to get quick results is asking for trouble. If you perform under strain, concentrating the mind on the movements will become difficult and serious disorders may result.” ~Yogeswar

Pursuing Advanced Moves Too Quickly

This is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make when starting yoga. This is even true for those who experienced a long absence from yoga, perhaps due to an illness.  If you have only done yoga a few times, you probably aren’t ready for advanced moves like inversions. Trying to do a handstand is not a good idea if you are not in top condition to do so. Ideally, newbies should always start slow and do more advanced moves as they get stronger, increase their flexibility, and possess the confidence to try and execute more difficult positions with the help of a skilled and competent teacher.

Do not imagine that all yoga exercises must be carried out perfectly if they are to be beneficial. Benefit accrues even if you practice small movements every day…”1Yogeswar. (2004). Textbook of Yoga. Haryana, India: Penguin House. ~Yogeswar

Engaging in Long, Advanced Yoga Practices

Not only should you not do moves outside your skill level, but taking on lengthy or intense yoga sessions as a newbie isn’t wise. As you get used to the basic yoga practice, your next goal shouldn’t be to jump into a hot yoga session. These are often very intense with high temperatures and lots of sweat, so your body may not quite be prepared, especially if you have any health conditions that counter being in such an environment.

The rule of thumb is to keep your yoga classes relatively short until you get more comfortable with the poses. Initially, you should set a short training period for yourself – like no more than ten minutes daily (if you consider yourself “out of shape”). Meanwhile, those of average health can start with 30 minutes, and those above average can strive for an hour per day. Nevertheless, starting with a shorter timeframe, one can begin by perfecting simple, beginner positions before moving on to more difficult ones.

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