By Chris Byford – Certified Baptiste Yoga Instructor
I am often asked what is the most common mistake I see in yoga class. When someone asks me this, they are often expecting to hear an answer that pertains to alignment in a pose, the focus on breath or the proper use of props. They assume that the most common pitfall is found somewhere in the physical characteristics of the practice. But the answer doesn’t originate in how you move your body. The answer is in what people believe to be true about their body.
The most common mistake I see yogis make in class is the belief that they are somehow not enough. They believe that they are not strong enough to do chaturanga or to hold crescent lunge. They believe that they are not flexible enough to do eagle or dancer pose. They believe that they are not young enough to do a heated class or work on arm balances.
These self-limiting beliefs show up physically on the mat when the student becomes uncomfortable in class. The teacher calls a pose that the student sees as difficult and the doubt takes the yogi out before he or she even attempts it. Or they try once and give up when they don’t step right into mastery on the first try. This is the power of your mind influencing the power of your practice. You believed that you couldn’t before you tried and proved yourself right.
The truth is that if you need more strength or flexibility, you get by doing the work on your mat. The thing you are avoiding is exactly what you need. The poses that challenge you are the ones that change you for the better. But as long as you believe that you can’t, you won’t.
The absolute truth is that it is not a matter of whether you can or you cannot. It is a matter of will you or won’t you. I know that you can. I hope that you will.