Anyone can do yoga. It doesn’t matter your age, shape, size, or gender. However, just because you have a will and a way, doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of your session.

When simply going through the motions, both your form and sense of awareness suffers. This reduces the benefits that can be gained from your practice and can increase your risk of injury. Whether you’re a newbie or more experienced, everyone can benefit from some fine-tuning. To help you get started, check out these common mistakes:

Taking Things Seriously

A successful yoga regimen requires commitment and discipline, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of your happiness. Yoga’s fundamental principle is to remove all barriers that keep one from achieving inner peace. So, if you find that you are having trouble with this aspect, you may want to reevaluate your approach and seek out ways to achieve a more relaxing practice.

Looking for Perfection

Perfectionism is an unhealthy condition that can cause a lot of unnecessary suffering. When you mess up during your yoga session, it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world. Yoga takes time, effort, and practice, so don’t let your failures discourage you. Instead, let them motivate you to learn and improve.

Eating Before a Session

Doing yoga on a full stomach may seem like a good idea after a long day of classes but, in reality, things can get uncomfortable real fast. Plus, eating before yoga class guarantees your blood supply will be directed to your stomach for better digestion. This leaves your muscles bereft of the energy you need for an effective practice.

Pushing ‘Til it Hurts

It’s common to hear “no pain, no gain” when doing cardio or strength training. But in yoga, things couldn’t be more different. If you find that you are pushing yourself too hard, it’s time to pull back. Failure to do so can lead to injury.

Forgoing a Yoga Mat

While it’s true that you don’t need much to begin doing yoga, there are a few handy tools that can enhance your practice, like yoga mats. Not only do they prevent your feet from slipping, they also provide a visual guideline for doing poses properly.

Not Breathing

When attempting a challenging pose, breathing properly is often the last thing on your mind. If you hold your breath, however, your muscles won’t get the oxygen they need to support your body. It’s important that you remain present and take deep, even breaths throughout your entire session.

Yoga Poses

A perfect yoga practice isn’t one where you get all your poses right. Rather, it’s about improving your alignment so that you can gain a deeper sense of awareness and prevent injury. Some of the poses that many of us mess up include:

Upward Facing Dog: It can be hard to remember to drop your shoulders while doing this pose, but when we hike them up, it creates tension in the neck.

Low Lunge: It’s common to hunch your back while in this pose, especially if your muscles are tight, but doing so can hurt the front knee.

Choosing the Wrong Clothes

When trying to achieve a deeper state of awareness, distractions can disrupt your journey. And few things can throw off a session faster than uncomfortable workout clothes. Imagine trying to get in the groove of a much-needed pigeon pose when you feel the uncomfortable bulge (courtesy of baggy gym shorts) on your thighs. It can really upset your sense of peace and harmony.

Avoid this issue with snug yoga tops and pants that not only fit comfortably but also let you move comfortably as well. While this may seem like a small detail, it actually frees up your monkey mind so that you can focus on more important things.

Avoiding the mistakes listed above makes for a better practice—one in which you are able to easily shift your focus inside and become more fully present. The more we are able to achieve this sense of awareness, the faster we are able to revel in the benefits of yoga. Namaste.