Are you avoiding these common errors?
Today I want to address the most common errors I see people making in yoga postures and give you detailed instructions for how to correct these mistakes and maintain proper form.
Experienced yogis (and even certified yoga instructors) are guilty of making these common yoga mistakes. Being aware of these mistakes is important for anyone practicing yoga or interested in practicing yoga. You shouldn’t have to rely on your yoga instructor to always adjust you and correct your technique.
Fix your technique now and avoid pain and injury later on. Poor movement patterns usually lead to one or the other, but being mindful of your technique can help you avoid them altogether.
Practicing proper form not only feels better – it gets you better results! I’ve included modifications so anyone can practice these poses and work their way up to the harder progressions after improving strength, flexibility, and coordination.
1) Chair Pose
You’re opening up your chest and arching your back
You’re putting your weight forward into your knees
When you arch your back to unnecessarily strain your lower back and lose much of your ability to engage your core. Doing this also minimizes your shoulder mobility. Putting your weight forward into your knees teaches your body this movement pattern, which can lead to significant knee injuries (as well as other lower-body injuries) when those movement patterns are translated to other forms of exercise such as running, weight lifting, plyometrics, and playing sports. Instead of teaching your body to put your weight in your knees and risking injury, focus on sitting back and putting your weight into your hips which enables proper glute activation.
How To Fix:
Error: You’re opening up your chest and arching your back
- Straighten your back.
- Keep your spine long and your core engaged.
Error: You’re putting your weight forward into your knees
- Hinge at the hips.
- Sit back into Chair Pose like you are sitting back into a chair, bringing your hips back and down (you should be able to see the tops of your feet).
2) Forward Fold
You approach Forward Fold as a passive stretch, rounding your spine and relaxing into the fold
Instead of actively recruiting your lower body and core to fold over, people tend to passively go into this stretch and relax their muscles. If you don’t have a lot of mobility, people tend to round their spine. This over stretches your back, which leads to chronic back pain, and prevents you from actually stretching your hamstrings, a main purpose of the Forward Fold.
How To Fix:
Error: You approach Forward Fold as a passive stretch, rounding your spine and relaxing into the fold
- Use a block.
- Keep your feet about 6 inches apart.
- Bend your knees.
- Hinge at your hips and lengthen your torso, keeping you back flat.
- Keep your core engaged and lower into the fold with control.
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3) High Lunge
You arch your lower back
You position your butt behind your shoulders
Your knee is tracking in front of your ankle
How To Fix:
Error: You arch your lower back
- Maintain a neutral spine throughout this pose. This will help you get a better stretch in your hip and will help you engage and strengthen your core.
- If you are having difficulty keeping an upright spine, bend your back knee slightly. Work your way up to straightening your back leg.
Error: You position your butt behind your shoulders
Keep your weight centered in your hips.
Error: Your knee is tracking in front of your ankle
Position your knee right above your ankle. This keeps your weight in your hips
Squeeze your legs towards one another.
Your legs are inactive
You use your arms instead of your core to lift
Cobra is done is most yoga classes and has many benefits including back pain relief and prevention, helping to maintain a healthy spine, improving posture, and strengthening your core. Your core and your hips are the most important parts of Cobra. Cobra isn’t about how high you can get; if you aren’t using your hips and core you aren’t getting much out of the posture.
How To Fix:
Error: Your legs are inactive
Maintain contact between the tops of your feet and the ground.
Firmly push the tops of your feet into the ground (you will feel your legs and core engaged).
Maintain lower-body engagement throughout the pose.
Error: You use your arms instead of your core to lift
- Lift away from the ground using your core strength, not your arms.
- Focus on pushing the top of your head away from your hips to maintain length in your neck.
5) Vinyasa (plank to low plank, to updog, to downdog)
You’re damaging your shoulders because of poor form in low plank
Improperly moving from low plank to updog
How To Fix:
Error: You’re damaging your shoulders because of poor form in low plank
- Keep your chest open.
- Don’t round your shoulders forward as you lower down. Instead, keep your shoulders down and back with your shoulder blades pulling together.
- Keep your elbows in close to your sides.
- If you can’t keep this form, lower your knees and practice this movement pattern until you develop the strength and muscle memory to keep proper form.
Error: Improperly moving from low plank to updog
- Press your feet firmly into the ground and actively engage your lower body.
- Engage your core and lower body to lift yourself up, don’t just rely on your arms for this.
Want a complete resource to learn proper yoga technique in numerous postures?
All of this information is taken from my recently published book, Yoga Fitness for Men.
Yoga Fitness for Men is the ultimate no-nonsense guide to yoga, teaching you how to execute yoga postures for greater endurance, flexibility, balance, and strength. It’s available all over the world, in stores, and on Amazon.
Plus, a full pose-guide is coming soon to the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area. Cobra Pose Guide is available now on my site if you want a taste of what’s to come! Click here to check it out.
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2 thoughts on “Common Beginner Yoga Mistakes to Avoid”
I am an Anusara yoga instructor myself. We are very focused on the alignment of the body. I love how you explain do’s and don’t’s in details. I am gonna purchase your book for my boyfriend who also loves yoga.
That’s really awesome to hear Erika! Dean puts a lot of hard work into the content he creates, so it’s great to hear it shows. You can pick up a copy of his book here: