It seems like our bodies try to find the easiest way to do anything, so it’s common for students to essentially "sit" in yoga poses and collapse into their joints instead of engaging the muscles to protect those same joints and maintain healthy alignment. When students collapse in poses, they are essentially causing compression to those same joints that we are aiming to create space and ease in. This can be remedied through awareness, muscle contraction, and proper positioning of the body.
Another mistake I see is students opting out of modifications or avoiding yoga props like blocks and straps. I think the tendency for most people is to want to do the most advanced version of poses, and it does not always serve their body or their practice in the most holistic way. Encouraging the use of modifications and props is something I speak to and bring into the classroom every time I teach.
The third mistake I see is -- believe it or not -- opting out of Corpse Pose (Savasana). While I understand that we all lead full lives and have schedules to maintain, and once in a while a student may have to sneak out 15 minutes early in order to make it to class at all, I truly believe that ending class with Savasana and leaving the class whole and complete is very important to the integrity of the practice and for the well-being of the practitioner. Why not truly make yourself a priority for the entire class, not just the parts that move quickly? I have had students say to me that they "cannot do Savasana," which of course is completely false. Clearly, they can lie down in a supine position and close their eyes … they choose not to. You have the power to make stillness and quiet a part of your experience. Savasana is the dessert of the practice, so by all means, don't cheat yourself!
Bethany Lyons is a powerful leader, creator, community builder and cofounder of Lyons Den Power Yoga, Manhattan's only Baptiste-style yoga studio. Bethany is a classically trained ballet dancer, Certified Baptiste Yoga Teacher and Master Instructor at SoulCycle. In cofounding Lyons Den Power Yoga, Bethany seeks to showcase the endless possibilities all around us and to show up in a big way for her students and in her life.