Let’s face it: we all have bad habits. Admittedly, some are worse than others, but a vice is a vice. And when it comes to our yoga practice, there are plenty of yoga habits that we could do without.
Of course, practicing yoga is a definite virtue. It helps to ground us, center us, and overall, hopefully make us better people. But even with such a virtuous practice, there are a number of things that we could be doing to make ourselves our own worst enemies.
Our practice shouldn’t be a place for judgements or criticism. It should be a safe haven and refuge from our chaotic and often stressful everyday lives. Our yoga mats should feel like sanctuaries.
So, in order to make that happen, we usually have to break a few bad yoga habits along the way.
Here Are 9 Bad Yoga Habits You Should Break for a More Satisfying Practice:
If you do any of the following, it might be time to reconsider your yoga habits . . . for the sake of your sanity, health, and the well-being of your yoga practice.
1. Quit Comparing Your Practice to Others
Of course, we’ve all done it. The bendy girl on the mat beside you might as well work for Cirque du Soleil. And you’re pretty sure that the super strong guy on your other side is related to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But the truth of the matter is that their practice is completely unrelated to yours. You’re on separate mats and on completely separate journeys. You have no idea how long she’s been working on her flexibility or how long he’s been working on his strength.
The grass is greener where you water it.
Your practice is not theirs and theirs is not yours. They’re likely eyeing your balance poses anyway and wishing they had as much control as you.
While it might seem like the grass is always greener on the other side, it really isn’t. The grass is greener where you water it. So put your time, effort, and attention into your own practice and watch how it blossoms.
2. Resist Pushing Yourself Beyond Your Limits
Yoga is a practice of respect – respect for your body, respect for your mind, and respect for your soul.
Oftentimes, practitioners can get overzealous and push their bodies beyond their physical limits, leading to injury.
But if you truly practice respect and listen to your body’s cues, then you’ll know clearly when enough is enough. Never push beyond your limitations. Simply allow them to expand with time and patience.
We are all unique. And our bodies know best.
When a teacher offers you cues and guidance, they are merely suggestions for what might work well for your body and alignment. They are not steadfast rules of how poses should be practiced.
So be sure to listen to the internal cues of your own body more than you listen to the external cues of your teacher to know exactly what works for you and exactly what doesn’t.
Always be sure to follow your internal teacher more than your external one to keep your body safe.
3. Stop Focusing on the End Goal
Enjoy every moment of your journey. Learn from the times you fall. Observe your growth and progressions. Savor the wild voyage and all the perseverance that it entails.
If you truly enjoy the full journey, you just might find that you actually reach your end goal faster than you might have if you spent all your time worrying about what you were lacking instead of thinking about what you already have.
4. Get Out of Your Head
As one of the most common yoga habits, many yogis spend a lot of time in their heads and not in their bodies as they practice.
Perhaps you’re thinking about what the teacher thinks of your flow or maybe you’re worried about whether or not your yoga pants are see through.
You might be making a shopping list during Savasana or thinking about the fight you had with your partner last night during meditation.
Get out of your head and into sensation.
The beauty of asana practice is that it allows you to get out of your head and into your body. We rarely have moments like this in our daily lives, so utilize this unique opportunity!
Flow with the rhythm of your breath. Move organically however your body craves. Embody how you feel and let the vibrations of your practice echo through your physical form. Get out of your head and into sensation. You might be surprised by its effects.
5. Please Don’t Skip Savasana
Many wise teachers have declared Savasana (Corpse Pose) to be the most important and the most difficult asana.
In other postures, we have alignment cues to focus on, balance and positioning to worry about, and other things to distract our attention. When we practice Savasana, we have no external distractions.
It’s just us and our thoughts. It’s a place of pure surrender and relaxation, and many yogis struggle to do just that.
Instead of skipping Savasana, challenge yourself to fully surrender to the stillness and give in to the release. It can have profoundly far-reaching implications to your practice and beyond.
6. Stop Holding Your Breath
Breath is a powerful form of prana. It is a life-force energy that literally keeps us alive. Yet, so often in our daily lives and in our yoga practice, we have the tendency to hold our breath.
What might be one of the absolute worst yoga habits, holding your breath during a practice is detrimental to the flow of energy within you. Physically, it deprives your body of oxygen. Energetically, it deprives your subtle body of prana.
Even as things get tough, you’ll likely find that effortlessly moving your breath (and with your breath) will have profoundly powerful effects on your practice, and ultimately, your whole life too.
7. Avoid Anticipating the Next Move
The ultimate goal of yoga is complete presence and mindful awareness of the present moment.
If you spend 90% of your practice, anticipating the next move, you’re missing out on the present.
So instead of spending your time trying to figure out which Sun Salutation is coming next or what the peak pose of the class may be, surrender fully to the present and be fully aware of what’s happening right now.
8. Stop Practicing Phone Asana
Whether you practice yoga online at home or at a yoga studio, we’ve all been tempted to check our phones during our practice. But this could be one of the worst yoga habits of all!
Our time on the mat is to unplug and get out of our heads and into our bodies. We spend enough time on devices as it is. The last thing any of us need is the interruption of our phones and all the pings and distraction that come with it.
Leave your phone at the door and on do not disturb. Your practice will thank you!
9. Don’t Not Challenge Yourself
Everybody loves a good comfort zone. After all, we feel comfortable there. But growth happens outside of your comfort zone.
That doesn’t mean you should push beyond your limits and attempt a super deep backbend or free-floating inversion if you’re not prepared. It means you should simply challenge yourself in any way that feels appropriate.
For some, that may mean holding Savasana for an extra minute or two – especially if you feel like you don’t have the time. For others, that might mean taking up a meditation practice even though it scares the sh*t out of you to sit with your own thoughts.
Growth happens outside of your comfort zone.
Maybe for you, challenging yourself simply means allowing yourself to let go of tension or get over your fear of turning upside down.
Whatever the challenge is for you, explore it and run toward. Rather than running from challenges on your mat, face them head on so that this invaluable skill can also translate off of your mat.
Break Your Bad Yoga Habits and Watch Your Practice Blossom
Your yoga practice is a safe space for you to be you on your mat.
Some days that may look like you curling up into Child’s Pose and crying for an hour. Some days, you may sweat your ass off as you flow effortlessly from pose to pose.
Whatever your practice looks like, you likely want to keep your habits healthy and beneficial. So drop your bad yoga habits and replace them with better ones to grow and grow and grow both on and off your mat.