How to fix the typical yoga poses people get wrong

There’s nothing like a calming yoga practice to complete a Sunday of self-care.

But as we’ve become more accustomed to working out alone at home, there’s greater room for getting in the habit of having bad form, which, long-term could leave you with an injury.

Classpass found in their research that online yoga has increased in popularity by 25% and 90% of yoga teachers plan to keep some of their practice digital still.

The scope for developing poor technique without a teacher to spot and fix it is still there.

There are five common yoga poses in particular that Yoga Alliance Professionals’ Fizz Yasin notices people often need correcting on.

Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Fizz explains: ‘A common mistake you’ll often find is the distance between your hands and feet being too narrow or wide. 

‘Too narrow or wide and you’ll be adding pressure and tension to not only your spine, but to other joints in your body also.

‘A downward facing dog can be such a nice pose to be in and it can even be a relaxing pose, with benefits to help stretch out only your spine but your whole body also.’

She recommends fixing this by getting into plank pose first (which can you read more about below).

Start by spreading your fingers out wide and push the palms of your hands into the mat, lifting your tailbone into the air.

The aim of this pose is to lengthen the spine, so make space as you create the upside down V shape with your body.

‘A slight bend in your knees can assist in making this pose more comfortable and by dropping the gaze to your feet can release tension in your neck,’ she adds.

It’s also important to be aware of your shoulders, which can become pressed up against the ears as tension and stress can focus here in the body.

‘To prevent this, press the floor away from you firmly, and lift your shoulders away from your ears gently, pushing your weight back into the hips,’ Fizz says.

Plank Pose 

You’ll likely remember from your PE days at school being told not to stick your bum in the air while planking.

Fizz says this ‘core transitional’ pose is best fixed by going back to the basics.

‘Start by building your strength up in a half plank pose – with your knees on the ground. 

‘Then gradually as you build strength, you can then start to push up into a full plank position, creating a nice long line from the crown of your head to the heels of your feet.

‘Ensure you are tucking your lower belly in by engaging your abdominal muscles.’

She says to remember ‘your bandhas lock checks’, which are points in the body yogis will ‘lock’ to affect the flow of energy in the body.

Bridge Pose

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Bridge pose is one of the most common backbends in yoga, and if not done correctly it can cause strain at the back of the neck. 

Fizz advises: ‘A common mistake you’ll find is your chin being squashed up to your chest. 

‘The best way to resolve this is by broadening the shoulder blades by lifting them up.

‘I often then give the cue to roll your shoulder blades underneath – to create more space in the upper back.

‘It may also help to clasp your hands together, to assist with anchoring down and keeping the space between your chest and back open.’

Upward Facing Dog 

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

‘The is one of the most nourishing poses for our spines and one we often forget to practice correctly,’ Fizz says.

The common mistake people make is in tossing their heads back.

Fizz says: ‘There’s a common misconception that because it’s called an ‘upward’ facing dog, that we need to literally throw our heads back.

‘By doing that you are creating a lot of tension build up in the back of the neck. 

‘The best way to resolve this is by practicing and understanding your range of motion from the neck.’

Position yourself in a seated position and clasp your hands together behind your neck – almost like you’re create a neck brace between the base of your skull and the tops of your shoulders. 

Gently tilt your head up and down to find a comfortable range of movement for your neck.

‘Remember that feeling when you position your head in your upward facing dog position,’ says Fizz.

Warrior 1

Virabhadrasana I

‘This one of the first warrior poses you will learn in your practice, but a common mistake you’ll find is the front knee dropping in or going too far past the front toes.

‘It causes not only an imbalance in your stance, but this could also cause an injury to your knee joint,’ Fizz says.

This occurs usually when you’re not using your thighs, abdominals or glutes.

Instead, keep your eye on your front leg, using your muscles in this pose and keeping the knee tracks directly over the ankle.

Fizz instructs: ‘You want to ensure that the front knee is pointing between the big toe and second toe.’

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