My 5 Biggest Yoga Mistakes

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We all make mistakes when we're new to something. Of course, these "mistakes" are often the things that give us the feedback we need to learn something new. I've found this to be especially true in the practice of yoga! We fall down a million times before we learn how to stand on our heads.

I am so thankful for each and every little falter along the way, for it's through these mistakes that I've become the yoga student I am today--imperfect, with lots more lessons ahead, but with far more understanding than I was when I started.

Here are my 5 biggest yoga mistakes.

1. Doing too much too soon. I was that student who would turn red and pull as hard as I could on my yoga strap because, determined to get my forehead to my knee in Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). It was ironic, then, that I actually got there when I learned to relax and soften into the stretch.

2. Comparing myself to others. You actually CAN make yoga into a competitive sport if you really want to. All you have to do it make sure that you're the strongest, stretchiest, most balanced, best yoga student in the whole class every single time! It's a good thing that I was surrounded by so many experienced yoga students early on because after a few classes of being bummed out about not having the best poses, I stopped watching what everyone else was doing and actually focused on my own practice.

3. Giving up too soon. I'm a bendy girl, which means I'm naturally good at things like backbends and that I had to practice for a good three years before I understood the concept of Bakasana (Crane Pose). In fact, in the early days of my yoga practice I got so frustrated that my teachers insisted on teaching arm balances that I simply refused to participate. I had one half-hearted attempt, and plopped down into Child's Pose instead. It took a long time, but when I finally understood arm balances they quickly became my favorite type of pose--I think because they were so hard for me learn I feel a surge of accomplishment every time I feel my feet lift away from the floor.

4. Judging others. It's so easy to look around the studio and think to yourself: "She's obviously just here because yoga is trendy" or "He has no concept of the spiritual part of the practice." But you know what? It really doesn't matter what brings someone to a yoga class. All that matters is that we're all here together, seeking out something to make our lives fuller and happier. I have nothing but respect for someone who takes their health and happiness into their own hands. When I realized this, I gained a greater understanding for the practice.

5. Wishing for things to be different. I still make this mistake on a daily basis. I wish I had more time for my practice. I wish I were more dedicated. I wish I were more deeply steeped in my local yoga community. But I also realize that yoga isn't about creating a perfect life for yourself, it's about enjoying the life that you're living right now. So, I try to enjoy the yoga sessions I manage to squeeze into my schedule, the time I get to sit down with my computer and reflect on my practice through blogging, and all the little things that give me joy in my everyday life.

What mistakes have you made in your yoga practice? And what did you learn from them?