Over the past three years every time I walked out of a Bikram Class I felt more injured than healed. I would try not to limp as I left the room, sliding my sweaty feet across the floor until I hit the cooler air outside of what is considered the “hot room.” Yet, the next day I’d show up and do it again.
Now, I know you’re going to say that is the definition of crazy - doing something over and over again and expecting a different result – and, I don’t disagree with you. It’s why I stopped practicing that series as much. After well over a decade of repeating these postures over and over again, my body had enough of it and was starting to talk. So, I listened.
I began developing a home practice because I knew what I was lacking was strength. In Bikram Yoga your back gets flexible and strong, but your abdominal wall? I’m sorry, but a couple of sit-ups are not going to counterbalance all of that back bending. And, your upper body strength literally gets nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Don't get me wrong. It’s a great series and I will always have love in my heart for the 26&2 and cheer those on that will do it to their dying day. It’s an awesome jumping off point to a yoga practice. But, eventually you have to move on or, if it's really your true love, incorporate another activity to help you increase strength.
Just know that taking one intermediate level or advanced class a week is not enough. I found I had to fully dive in to working through arm balancing postures, inversions, and abdominal work to begin to heal and balance out my body.
And, that brings me to the first yoga fail:
#1 Refusing to be open to changing things up.
Listen, I get it. I was the girl that shouted from the rooftops to anyone that could hear me that I would do Bikram Yoga until my last breath. Now, it’s unlikely I will return to the practice.
What I’ve learned is to be open to change. If you don’t want to go to yoga anymore, feel bored, or if it hurts, is no longer working, etc. Then, guess what? It’s time to move on. Find a different instructor, or a different method. Mix things up. You are doing nothing wrong. You were meant to grow and change. You were meant to evolve. And, that includes your yoga practice, too.
The second yoga fail, you ask? Easy.
#2 Being too damn hard on yourself.
You want to be able to do a certain posture right NOW (picture Veruca Salt, fists wadded in balls beside you, stomping your feet in frustration). But, you know what? It so does not work that way. At all. Ever. So, get over it.
It’s going to take time. And, within that time you’re going to open up to the lessons the postures are there to teach you.
In order to achieve a yoga posture you once could not, you are going to have to change. You won’t be the same person you are today. When you are able to get into a posture again and again as if you could always get your leg behind your head, or touch your feet to your head in a back bend – I’m sorry, but you changed. You’re not the same person, nor would you want to be. So, let things come as they are.
Posture goals? Sure. Have some posture goals. But, don’t ride or die by them. Just work towards them a little every day.
The worst injuries in yoga are the ones in which you forced something instead of allowed something to come in its own time. You can’t blame a bad adjustment from the teacher then. You can only point the finger at yourself.
And, finally, let’s talk about the third yoga fail. Because it’s the granddaddy of them all…
#3 Not showing up at all.
Because it really is that simple. If you show up, you’ll do the practice. It might be an awesome practice, or sloppy, or God awful. But, you’ll get it done and you’ll feel better that you did.
So, if you’ve been skipping out on your practice, or binging Netflix for hours and then complaining you don’t have time to get on your mat, just stop it. Stop the excuses. It’s one hour. And, it’s the one hour that can make your whole day better and eventually, your whole life. So, get to it.
Tori Hicks-Glogowski is an online yoga instructor for real people looking to do extraordinary things. On her own mat for well over fifteen years, Tori works to inspire others to develop a life long practice through her classes, workshops, in-person events, and retreats. Find out more about Tori now.