Which are the most common mistakes people make in yoga?
As yoga becomes more mainstream, there are numerous persistent myths that cause many people to make mistakes in their practice and not get the full benefits of yoga, says Iyengar yoga teacher Julie Gudmestad, P.T. in this free download.
The greatest myth of all? That yoga is all about flexibility. As a result of this myth, says Julie, many yoga students over-emphasize flexibility at the expense of strength.
Over time, this can create an imbalance that can destabilize the joints, taking them well beyond the normal range of motion.
“In my 40 years of clinical experience, I have worked with a lot more people who have chronic, nagging pain problems from being overly flexible, than people who are stronger and tighter,” Julie notes. “With these pain problems there isn’t anything really wrong and there’s no joint damage. But there’s no surgery to correct grouchy soft tissue that’s been chronically overstretched.”
Another common yoga myth that causes imbalances in our practice, Julie notes, is that yoga is not as effective a tool for building strength as strength training in a gym.
The opposite is the case, notes Julie. Asana practice strengthens every part of the body by using body weight resistance against gravitational pull. And this effect goes beyond the soft tissue. Putting stress on a bone also encourages your body to maintain the mineral density of the bone.
But most importantly, yoga works on functional lines, rather than isolating muscles as one might do in a gym setting.
“If you’re going to the gym and you’re putting your elbow on a pad to isolate your bicep, the bicep is going to get stronger but it’s not part of a functionally aligned movement pattern,” she explains. “That’s going to affect how we walk up and down stairs or pick up a bag of groceries–in other words, how we actually live our lives off the mat.”
Lastly, Julie discusses the third myth of yoga, relating to how we build core strength in yoga. Learn why the core is a lot more than most people believe it is and why the wrong approach to core strengthening often ends up hurting more than it helps by creating imbalances in the body.
You may also be interested in Julie Gudmestad’s course: Yoga, Core Strength, and Back Health: Keys to Pain-Free Living.