The biggest mistakes beginners make can’t be seen.
Coming into yoga from the world of sports and/or fitness, it’s easy to shun some of the details mentioned in class. Some people never learn to appreciate these finer details and I feel sorry for them — their yoga will most likely never enjoy the finer aspects of a true yoga practice.
I totally understand how a newer yoga student might struggle with all the newness that comes with yoga. There’s so much to figure out on the external side of yoga that it becomes almost impossible to pay attention to the internal practice.
We all want to look like we belong and nobody wants to look like they have no idea what they’re doing no matter what they’re doing.
That’s why I’m here to tell you that, in yoga, what you look like on the outside matters far less than what you feel like on the inside. Not to sound like a kids T.V. show, but you’re truly missing the point if you ignore how you feel in a yoga class.
Of course, you don’t want to injure yourself, so some external alignment is necessary, but the biggest mistakes I see new yoga students make relate more to the mind. Most yoga students (and teachers) tend to not notice these things, which is why you can look like an expert yoga student but actually have no idea what you’re doing.
What you can’t see is how much someone is competing with themselves or others, how much listening they’re doing to the teacher or their body, or how focused they are on their breathing.
These are the three biggest mistakes beginner students make: 1) competing, 2) not listening, and 3) not focusing on breathing as the priority.
We tend to take habits from other fitness modalities and plunge into yoga with no intention of changing our approach. For athletes, it’s nearly impossible to not compete with others and, if they can do that, it’s even harder not to bring some form of self-competition onto the yoga mat. When we compete in yoga, we get injured. As athletes, the sport already brings enough risk for injury, so the competitive attitude in yoga is only putting your body at an unnecessary additional risk.
When you’re not listening to your body or teacher, you miss important warnings that signal potential harm and you ignore the possibility to expand your understanding of the practice.
When you put the breath anywhere other than the top priority, you break the link between body and mind and, essentially, reduce the practice to exercise instead of something truly life-changing.
If you can improve in these three areas, even though most people won’t notice, you will be doing yoga while everyone else is just exercising.
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