Whether you’re an experienced yogi or tentative newbie, you know that yoga is all about balance — including both the body and the mind. In order to maintain this balance, there are a few things to watch out for. Read on to learn about the most common mistakes people make before sweating it out on the mat.
1. Rush yourself
Make an intention to dedicate a portion of your day to yoga, and give yourself time. Frantically trying to get things together at the last minute, showing up in the wrong attire or feeling starved/too full/stressed can all contribute to increased tension in your body, which takes away from you getting the most out of your practice.
2. Chow down
Avoid eating a meal before yoga; your stomach needs to be relatively empty to twist and bend into your poses (think downward dog on a full stomach — no thanks). On the other hand, don’t starve yourself. A light snack like a banana, almonds or a smoothie at least thirty minutes before class is fine. And feel free to go crazy with the post-yoga food.
3. Get caffeinated
Caffeine tends to throw off our internal balance; it triggers stress reactions like muscle tension and increased heart rate. Studies show that caffeine intake also decreases serotonin levels, or our “happy chemical” that contributes to our sense of well-being. Go for a green smoothie instead of your usual latte before your next class for better focus and meditation.
4. Throw one back
Alcohol and balance have never been friends. Having even one drink can cause drowsiness, dehydration and low blood pressure, leading to shakiness — not what you want when you’re trying to finally nail that crow pose.
5. Chug chug chug
While hydrating before yoga (especially hot yoga) is a must, drinking too much is detrimental for the same reason as eating too much food: a full stomach isn’t conducive to sinking fully into poses comfortably. Worst case scenario: over-hydration leading to hyponatremia, which causes energy loss, muscle weakness and cramps.
6. Apply perfume
Yoga means constant deep breathing, and you don’t want strong fumes mixing with all the good vibes you’ll be inhaling; even light body sprays can be distracting and bothersome. Stay away from your Chanel No. 5 and let your natural smells prevail. Don’t worry about B.O. — you definitely won’t be the only one.
7. Cold stretch
Stretching before you’ve warmed up gives your muscles less support and can make you feel like jelly (especially if you hold the stretch for over 90 seconds). Who wants a weak and wobbly warrior pose? Pre-yoga stretching can not only lead to injury, but it’s completely pointless; the poses throughout your session should incorporate easing your muscles into stretches slowly and safely.
Now that you’re prepared, go get your Vinyasa on. Namaste.