5 Common Mistakes People Make When Taking Up a Yoga Practice
If you’re getting serious about using yoga to support you in your wellness journey, you’re in the right place.
I love, love teaching Kundalini because I’ve found it to be such a well-rounded form of yoga, meaning it’s not just designed to exercise the body. It incorporates meditation, breathwork, mantra, and sound vibration – the essentials needed to work through our subconscious gunk, harbored emotions, and any other unhelpful baggage that we are dragging around.
Sure, it can seem a bit weird at first, but Kundalini taps into the healing aspects of yoga and really helps us thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally.
However, I do want to share some of the most common mistakes people make when taking up a personal yoga practice, of any style.
If you’re not mindful, these key elements can completely derail you from your wellness goals.
#1 - Not being consistent.
Yoga is not meant to be a one-and-done kind of thing. You also won’t see significant change if you are only dabbling in a class here and there.
The best results come when you make yoga part of your LIFESTYLE. It is a non-negotiable element of your everyday routine, just like brushing your teeth.
Imagine what your mouth environment would be like if you only brushed once a week, or every so often. Imagine what your house would smell like if you only took out the trash every so often. Um, gross.
Now translate that to your body’s inner environment. Hopefully, you get the point.
How can I be more consistent with yoga, you ask?
Don’t think you have to fit in an hour-long practice every day. If you aim for that, you will definitely disappoint yourself.
Yes, find at least 2 days a week for a full practice session. But for the rest of the days, aim for 15 minutes.
Tack it on to something you already do regularly. For example, every morning I make a glass of warm water with lemon and drink that before anything else. I then put my coffee in my French press, and while it’s doing its thing, I get in my 15 guaranteed minutes of yoga.
I put short morning practice videos in my SOULutions Membership program to help you with this.
#2 - Telling yourself that you don’t have time to practice.
The famous Zen proverb: If you don’t have time to meditate for 15 minutes every day, then meditate for an hour.
Telling ourselves that we don’t have time is the biggest con around. It’s how our mind sabotages us because it always wants to keep us in the status quo, even if that isn’t the healthiest or happiest place to be.
The truth is, we are in control of how we manage our time. Have you ever told yourself you didn’t have time to work out, prep a healthy meal, etc., but found time to binge-watch episodes of Outlander on Netflix? Guilty as charged!
Catch yourself when that voice in your head says, “I don’t have time”.
Thank your mind for trying to protect you (even if in a back-asswards kind of way), but then take charge and make the time. Hint… go back to the suggestion given in mistake #1.
#3 – Seeing yoga as just a form of exercise.
Yoga as a “great form of exercise” was a way to get Americans to buy into this practice back in the 80s when the hippie era was over and yoga still looked too weird.
However, the traditional Eastern view of yoga is that it is a tool to help us meditate more effectively. Strength and flexibility are just a nice side-effect.
If you think yoga is only for exercise, and just keep hitting the Power Flow classes at the gym, you are missing out on 75% of the value of this ancient practice.
Classical yoga includes breath awareness, various breath patterns for a particular purpose, way more than just 2 minutes of meditation during the ending savasana, and uses mantras and chanting to stimulate regeneration at the body’s cellular level.
Incorporating all of these features in yoga helps us release stuck emotions and addictions. It helps us to plug energetic leaks so we have more energy and vitality. It helps us connect to our greater purpose.
Yoga is designed to be a SPIRITUAL practice. Be open to all it has to offer if you truly want a more joyful and peaceful life.
#4 – Looking to yoga as a quick fix.
I have been practicing various forms of yoga consistently since 2011. I am stronger now at 50 than I have ever been in my entire life. But it took over a decade.
And still, if you compare my form and strengths to my own yoga mentors, I look like a novice.
It shouldn’t be a big surprise to you that to be physically in shape takes some time. It is a continuous work in progress. But when it comes to emotional and mental health, we often turn to tools that we think can give us the quickest fix. After all, who wants to rehash trauma or loss over and over again?
When it comes to trauma, the beauty is that there are techniques such as EMDR and Tapping (EFT) that can help people process their emotions and experiences in a relatively short amount of time.
However, when it comes to dysfunctional, self-sabotaging habits, we’ve been developing these since we were a wee-one. Some of our unhelpful patterns may have been with us for several lifetimes! Welcome to the human condition!
If you’ve been buying into the belief that you aren’t worthy of love for 35 years, you aren’t going to fully undo this in 3 yoga classes.
The trick is learning to be ok with our dysfunction: to bring it to our awareness, to not judge ourselves for it (cuz we all got it), and then take baby steps to work through it.
Kundalini yoga is referred to as the “yoga of awareness”. With regular practice, you get in touch with those habits and belief systems that are no longer serving you and slowly start to release them. I’ve let go of a lot in 10+ years of yoga. And I still have more to go.
#5 – Giving Up Too Soon Because You Didn’t Choose the “Right” School of Yoga for You.
Not every self-help tool works for every person. One person’s superfood is another person’s poison. We are all unique and have certain strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Taking up badminton (that totally resonates with your BFF) may feel like a painstaking process of whack-a-mole to you.
Therefore, if you attend one yoga class at your gym, hate it, or worse yet, hurt yourself, and then decide yoga is not for you, you didn’t really experience the full gamut of yoga. It just means you didn’t find the form of yoga that works for you.
I can’t tell you how many people have told me they didn’t like yoga because it was too slow, or they couldn’t get through the last few minutes of savasana at the end of class.
I wrote a whole article about how to choose the “right” school of yoga for you, but here are a few things to consider:
If you carry a lot of anger or fiery energy, then the tendency is to want to run or do high-intensity cardio to “burn off steam”. But this is like letting a bull run loose in a china shop. It just exacerbates the condition rather than helps you to de-stress and balance your body’s internal state. Your sabotaging mind will then tell you that yoga is too slow.
If you have an older-ish body as I do, then trying to keep up with a Vinyasa power flow will ultimately lead to several days of limping due to triggering the bum knee or being laid up flat on your back for a couple of days. You will then tell yourself that yoga hurts, is too hard, and doesn’t work for your body.
If you avoid the forms of yoga that include meditation because you’ve tried meditating for all of 5 minutes and now tell yourself that it doesn’t work for you, you are sabotaging yourself before you even get started. You didn’t learn to ride a bike by getting on it for 5 minutes after all!
Sometimes the “right” school of yoga gives us what we NEED, not necessarily what we think we want.
To get the full scoop on how to choose the “right” style of yoga for you, read this article.
Now that you understand some of the most common mistakes people make when taking up a yoga practice, you can set yourself up to build a consistent practice that works for you.
If you would like to learn more about Kundalini yoga, start to release the emotions and beliefs that aren’t working for you anymore, and create a deeper connection with your higher self, check out my SOULutions Membership Program.