Doing yoga at home is fun and relaxing – but without an instructor to guide you, you may be making some of these common mistakes…
There’s no doubt that doing yoga at home is awesome. You get to relax in a comfortable and familiar setting, without worrying about anyone watching you, checking out your butt from behind when you’re in Downward-Facing Dog, or hearing you accidentally let one rip (let’s face it – it happens)!
The downside is that there is no professional around to make sure you are doing the poses correctly. While yoga is designed to fit just about anyone, and you can (and should) modify each pose to suit your individual ability, some bad habits can lead to muscle strain or injury – or simply compromise the benefits you would normally receive from a certain pose.
This doesn’t mean you should stop doing yoga at home, but it does mean you should always pay attention to your form, and make sure you are following correct yoga principles and positioning for each pose.
Below are 3 common mistakes that many new yogis make when doing yoga at home. Watch out for these, and follow the tips below to fix them:
Bad At-Home Habit #1: You find yourself in Downward-Facing Dog pose a lot in online yoga classes, so you’ll want to have impeccable form in order to help preserve your shoulders and lower back over time. Down Dog is often described as an upside-down V with the heels touching the floor. This description is helpful to quickly get into a basic form of the pose; however, it can result in a very short stance that’s too choked up to get any freedom or extension in the spine.
The Fix: Consider walking your feet back and taking a longer stance, so you get more mobility in your lower back and can open your chest freely in the pose. Don’t worry if your heels no longer touch the floor. You have a predetermined length to your Achilles tendon, which can be overstretched permanently from continually pushing your heels down.
Bad At-Home Habit #2: For yoga asana students with a home practice, I’d say the biggest issue is they (in most cases) don’t have someone checking on their alignment. You can learn the shapes and actions of a posture through an online class, but if no one is there to see your version of the posture, you might be messing it up. Bad alignment isn’t always necessarily a big deal in any given day of practice, but over time it can lead to strain and injury.
The Fix: One way to check your alignment is to take a video of yourself doing the pose/practice. Be prepared: It can be a traumatic thing to watch yourself practice. What feels so amazing sometimes looks … less than amazing. Painful as it is, that observation can be the first step in developing better alignment. When you watch yourself, what looks off? Is the leg bent when it should be straight? Is the back round where it should be more flat? It will take a while to fix those issues, but at least once you’ve seen what you need to do, you’ll be working in the right direction.
Bad At-Home Habit #3: Without a doubt, the number one easiest bad habit to pick up when practicing at home or on the road is to cut poses short and avoid others. While lots of people have specific poses they resist or avoid, this early ending of poses happens most commonly in Savasana! I’ve seen this happen with students when I’m teaching or practicing at a studio, too. A practitioner will try to leave class early or do extra twisting or anything else to avoid lying still for five to eight minutes. At home, it’s really easy to cut a pose short, especially Savasana, and nobody is there to call you out on the self-sabotage.
The Fix: The best way to prevent yourself from cutting poses short is to make a simple agreement with yourself: Right when you want to leave the pose, hold it for one more long inhale and one long exhale. That’s it. As for Savasana, a timer on your phone is great. Don’t put it too close to your head, or the sound/vibration will be startling. Both of these approaches allow you to know there is an end and still free you up to get more out of your practice.
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