Buddha says there are only two mistakes if you are pursuing a path to enlightenment: one is not to begin. The other is to not go far enough. However, I can think of a few more pitfalls to avoid so you never fall out of love with yoga.
1. Become a yoga teacher
Once upon a time you went to the studio, excited and open to learn new things. Today you teach three classes in a row and you cannot wait to get the heck out of there and into a shower. You took something you loved and turned it into something you have to do.
However, there’s a cure. Treat yoga as a practice you love and make a date to get back on your mat. Either stack your classes on a few days, or teach just one-a-day, leaving space to practice. Either way, make your practice (and you) a priority and you will be a better teacher.
The best part of yoga is you don’t have to be faithful to one style. If you love to flow, then try alignment. If you love alignment, then challenge it by moving in Vinyasa. One doesn’t detract from the other; one informs the other. I learned a tremendous amount about my alignment practice from my Bikram teacher.
Life is full of contradictions and so is our yoga practice. Try everything, then decide what feels right for you.
Sooner or later everyone has an injury in yoga. It simply means you may need to make some changes in your practice. It doesn’t mean that yoga causes bodily harm (necessarily). Here are some other sobering statistics: 235,000 people a year visit the emergency room from bathroom-related injuries, and another 272,000 people are seriously, if not fatally, injured while walking. And that was before cell phones! Use an injury to see what you can do, and not focus on what you can’t.
Michelle wearing the Ultra High Waist Pocket Yoga Capri in White.
4. Do Yoga, and Only Yoga
You would think if you practice every day you will get better at yoga, and by better, I mean stronger, flexible and fearless. But as we age we lose muscle mass. So along with practice, we need to increase our strengthening exercises.
Lastly, your heart is a muscle too, and even though you can’t see it in yoga pants, it needs to work out at least a few times a week to keep up your endurance.
5. Be Goal Oriented
Usually highly-focused, goal-oriented people do very well at meeting their objectives. But yoga isn’t like that. Yoga teaches us to surrender and if we pursue a pose too hard it will escape us. Instead, we learn how to practice, rather than how to perfect. It’s a hard lesson, and some of us never quite learn it.
6. Mistake a Break, for a Break-Up
I think it is perfectly natural that our love for yoga will ebb and flow. There are times when we may not want to practice. That is perfectly okay. I have even met yogis who tell me they haven’t practiced in months.
Here is the thing: No matter how long you stay away, yoga will always be there for you. When you roll out your mat, you will remember why you came. Don’t beat yourself up for how long you’ve been away; reward yourself for coming back.
Yoga is a long-term relationship between body, mind and spirit, and Buddha may be right. The only true mistake we can make is not to begin, or not to go far enough. Just like love, if you come back, over and over again, you’ll find your way to enlightenment.
Michelle wearing the Goddess Ruched Legging in Dot Print with her dog Lucy.
Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. Her latest book, co-authored with Desiree Rumbaugh, is “Fearless After Fifty: How to Thrive with Grace, Grit and Yoga.” You can find her at www.michellemarchildon.com.
Michelle and KiraGrace go way back! We've been so blessed to have her as one of our Warrior Ambassadors for over 4 years. We love her grace, wisdom, humor, and her adorable style! Shop her favorite yoga top here: Grace Double Strap